GMA News Online
News
»
Special Reports

Pork racket: NGO headed by Luy got P225-M from DA's corporate arm

July 25, 2013 4:52pm

Despite alarms raised by state auditors over five years, pork barrel funds still went to the same questionable NGOs through a single government corporation, to the tune of P1.5 billion, according to a review of Commission on Audit (COA) documents.

The biggest chunk of the pork was funneled to an NGO headed by Benhur K. Luy, the whistleblower in the recently exposed alleged scam that reportedly defrauded the government of an estimated P10 billion in "pork barrel" funds.

Luy's NGO, the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI), is one of the groups linked to the scam. Documents obtained by GMA News Research show that the group received about P225 million through the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR), the corporate arm of the Department of Agriculture that was set up to assist small farm-related enterprises.

Last year, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala stopped the flow of cash from NABCOR to the questionable NGOs. The move ended a pattern of what the COA has cited as anomalous transactions from 2006 to 2011, involving NGOs and players in both the executive and legislative branches of government.

Based in Biñan, Laguna, SDPFFI was formed in July 2004. Listed as its president and board chairman in Its 2012 general information sheet is Luy, who exposed the alleged scam.

In his affidavit, Luy claimed to be an employee of a company owned by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, whom he accused of engaging in illegal business transactions with the government. 
 
In a joint sworn statement on March 2013, the parents and siblings of Luy said that Benhur oversaw the implementation of anomalous government-funded projects through foundations such as SDPFFI allegedly being used by Napoles.

In an interview with GMA News, Napoles denied the accusations and implicated Luy instead.

COA objections vs SDPFFI

Year after year, the COA issued the same observations about the transactions of NABCOR, a government-owned and controlled corporation attached to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In its reports, the COA said the funds seemed to be going to questionable NGOs and POs. And yet, year after year the money kept coming, with NABCOR unable to provide satisfactory answers to the government auditing agency.

As the corporate arm of DA, NABCOR is the leading government corporation in countryside agribusiness enterprises for small farmers and fisherfolk. Since 2006, it had been releasing funds to various foundations for a wide range of projects.

In the case of SDPFFI, P160.54 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF, more commonly known as lawmakers' pork barrel funds, was released to the group in 2008. The following year, it received another P64.75 million

Documents show that the Laguna-based NGO was implementing projects in Sarangani, Agusan del Sur, Benguet, South Cotabato, Pangasinan, Lanao del Sur, and Masbate. This is a violation of COA's Circular 2007-001, which requires NGOs and POs to be "based in the community where the project shall be implemented."

Non-compliance with the requirement disqualifies an NGO or PO from obtaining government funds. But in its answer to the 2008 audit, NABCOR justified its actions, saying that proper coordination was observed in the "tripartite project" involving the participation of legislators, SDPFFI and NABCOR itself.

To support this explanation, NABCOR submitted a list of projects implemented by the foundation as proof of its track record. However, COA rejected this justification, saying "the submission of the list of projects implemented by the NGOs/ POs does not cure" the deficiency it had identified with SDPFFI.

According to the group's articles of incorporation, it was formed to carry out community development programs through the establishment of training centers for the poor and for out-of-school youth.

SDPFFI's corporate records submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shows that Luy is among its seven incorporators. Besides Luy, three are based in Manila, while the three others are in Zamboanga City.

One of the foundation's purposes is to "acquire loans and other financial accommodations from the government and private institutions" for its activities and projects.

For a foundation receiving millions in funds from the government, it is interesting to note that SDPFFI's capital is a measly P100,000 from the contribution of its members. Its 2011 financial statement shows that it only has P1 million in assets and zero excess funds.

COA requires a foundation to put up the equivalent of 20 percent of the total cost of the project it would undertake as its own equity participation.
 
Pork from six legislators
 
Despite COA's observations in 2008, SDPFFI received millions of pesos more the following year. In its 2009/ 2010 audit, COA said the money came from the PDAF of six legislators, listed in the table below.

Table 1: PDAF received by SDPFFI in 2009

SOURCE OF FUND

AMOUNT RELEASED

ERWIN CHIONGBIAN

13,822,500

RODOLFO PLAZA

9,700,000

SAMUEL DANGWA

7,760,000

ARTHUR PINGOY

2,910,000

ROBERT RAYMUND ESTRELLA

20855000

RIZALINA SEACHON-LANETE

9,700,000

TOTAL

64,747,500

Source: Commission on Audit 

"The office of the legislators nominated SDPFFI for the implementation of livelihood projects," COA's report stated. Again, auditors listed the NGO's faults: non-submission of documentary requirements, foundation not based in communities where projects are to be implemented, foundation's financial standing deficiencies.

GMA News tried to reach the six former legislators to get their side on the issue. When the camp of Chiongbian was contacted last week, his nephew, Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon, said his uncle was in the US and would issue an official statement later.

Seachon-Lanete refused to comment, saying her camp is now preparing a statement on the issue. Plaza, Dangwa, Pingoy and Estrella, meanwhile, could not be reached for comment as of this posting.

Aside from the institutional problems of SDPFFI, government auditors also questioned nearly the entire amount released to the group. The COA disclosed that purchases of fertilizers, knapsack sprayers, gardening and agricultural production packages, and other agricultural kits amounting to P64.73 million were not covered by a contract or purchase order.
 
COA also noted that the schedule of fund releases for projects was not followed. Instead of four scheduled payments (15 percent upon signing of MOA, 35 percent upon submission of accomplishment and disbursement reports, 40 percent upon completion of at least three-fifths of the total project, 10 percent upon submission of terminal report), actual payments were made in two releases (15 percent upon MOA signing, 85 percent upon project completion). The only exceptions were the releases for Chiongbian, which complied with the schedule, and Estrella who made three releases.
 
The government auditing agency could not confirm that SDPFFI maintained separate bank accounts, as the foundation failed to submit the required documents. In addition, checks released to the foundation amounting to P15.16 million were not crossed for deposit to its bank accounts, while checks amounting to P26.53 million were not presented for audit.
 
The COA ended its 2009/ 2010 report on SDPFFI with the note that it had yet to hear from NABCOR about the findings.

In an interview with GMA News, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that because of the COA audit reports, the DA no longer released funds to NGOs and POs through NABCOR starting 2012. Alcala added that DA itself has had liquidation problems with NABCOR.

26 foundations received questionable funds
 
From 2006 to 2011, the government's audit arm identified at least 26 foundations involved in irregular transactions involving pork barrel funds. At least 12, including SDPFFI, had received government funds more than once, as seen in the table below.

Table 2: Foundations and the pork they received

FOUNDATION

AMOUNT

AARON FOUNDATION PHILIPPINES INC.

97,000,000

BUHAY MO MAHAL KO FOUNDATION INC.

31,525,000

BUKID-TANGLAW LIVELIHOOD FOUNDATION INC.

8,730,000

CENTER FOR MINDORO INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION

9,700,000

CENTER FOR MINDORO INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INC.

4,850,000

CENTER FOR MINDORO INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INC.

4,850,000

DR. RODOLFO A. IGNACIO SR. FOUNDATION INC.

9,700,000

GABAY AT PAG-ASA NG MASA FOUNDATION INC

52,865,000

GABAY SA MAGANDANG BUKAS FOUNDATION INC.

2,910,000

GABAYMASA DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INC.

23,280,000

IKAW AND AKO FOUNDATION INC.

19,400,000

INFINITE COMMUNITY INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT FOUNDATION INC.

26,190,000

INFINITE COMMUNITY INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT FOUNDATION INC.

24,250,000

INTERACTIVE TRAINING OPPORTUNITY ON NEEDS ALLEVIATION (ITO NA!) MOVEMENT INC.

4,365,000

INTERACTIVE TRAINING OPPORTUNITY ON NEEDS ALLEVIATIONS (ITO NA!) MOVEMENT INC.

5,383,500

KAAGAPAY MAGPAKAILANMAN FOUNDATION INC.

57,230,000

KAAGAPAY MAGPAKAILANMAN FOUNDATION INC.

4,850,000

KAAGAPAY MAGPAKAILANMAN FOUNDATION INC.

1,042,750

KABUHAYAN AT KALUSUGANG ALAY SA MASA FOUNDATION

50,440,000

KABUHAYAN AT KALUSUGANG ALAY SA MASA FOUNDATION INC

65,960,000

KABUHAYAN AT KALUSUGANG ALAY SA MASA FOUNDATION INC.

63,341,000

KAGANDAHAN NG KAPALIGIRAN FOUNDATION INC.

109,061,950

KAISA'T KAAGAPAY MO FOUNDATION INC.

55,290,000

KAPUSO'T KAPAMILYA FOUNDATION INC.

12,610,000

KAPUSO'T KAPAMILYA FOUNDATION INC.

76,455,400

KAPUSO'T KAPAMILYA FOUNDATION INC.

4,850,000

KASANGGA SA MAGANDANG BUKAS FOUNDATION INC. (KMBFI)

56,551,000

MASAGANANG ANI PARA SA MAGSASAKA FOUNDATION INC.

112,083,500

MASAGANANG ANI PARA SA MAGSASAKA FOUNDATION INC.

9,700,000

PANGKABUHAYAN FOUNDATION INC.

24,250,000

PANGKABUHAYAN FOUNDATION INC.

9,457,500

PEOPLE'S ORGANIZATION FOR PROGRESS & DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION INC.

24,250,000

SAGIP-BUHAY PEOPLE SUPPORT FOUNDATION INC.

29,100,000

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR FARMERS FOUNDATION INC.

160,535,000

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR FARMERS FOUNDATION INC.

64,747,500

ST. JAMES THE APOSTLE MULTIPURPOSE COOPERATIVE

9,700,000

ST. JAMES THE APOSTLE MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE

9,700,000

THE LIKHAAN GROUP INC.

4,365,000

THE LIKHAAN GROUP INC.

4,850,000

THE LIKHAAN GROUP INC.

9,215,000

USWAG GUIMARAS FOUNDATION

2,546,250

USWAG GUIMARAS FOUNDATION INC.

13,580,000

USWAG PILIPINAS FOUNDATION INC.

12,804,000

VARIOUS NGOS AND POS

146,038,499

TOTAL

1,529,602,849

Source: GMA News Research, using data from the Commission on Audit


The anomalies continued despite the revised, and more stringent, COA guidelines on the release of funds to NGOs/ POs issued in 2007, in the aftermath of the commission's discovery of the fertilizer fund scam.
 
Since the 2009 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the government has also made it a policy not to allow NGOs/ POs to participate in projects if they have unliquidated fund releases. Government agencies are also tasked by law to ensure that the NGOs/ POs they deal with are legitimate.

COA's objections to NABCOR's transactions with questionable NGOs/ POs stem from violations of legal requirements that should have rendered them ineligible to receive government funds. The deficiencies and transaction irregularities include the following:
 

  • non-submission of project proposals

  • lack of proof of good financial standing for three years preceding the date of project implementation

  • incapability of a foundation to put up its own equity participation without using funds, i.e. government funds, allocated to it

  • non-compliance with COA rule that an NGO/ PO must be based in the community where its project is to be implemented

  • non-submission of required documents for audit

  • liquidation deficiencies

  • non-compliance with bidding requirements

 
In its latest COA audit covering transactions in 2011, released this year, the same set of complaints appear, with the COA still unsatisfied with NABCOR's explanations.
 
Seven foundations run by the same people
 
Among the COA's findings, one observation stood out: at least seven foundations allegedly involved in irregular transactions with the government are being run by the same individuals.

"Marilou L. Antonio was the Project Coordinator of Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. and Ikaw at Ako Foundation, Inc. and Chief Finance Officer of Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay Sa Masa while Marilou C. Ferrer was the Project Coordinator of Kapuso't Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. and Corporate Secretary of Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa," COA observed in 2007.

In a 2008 audit, COA disclosed that Antonio, Ferrer and Godofredo G. Roque were also incorporators of Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation, Inc., Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. and Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc.

 

Table 3: Foundations with interlocking officers


FOUNDATION

AMOUNT RECEIVED

BUHAY MO MAHAL KO FOUNDATION, INC.

31,525,000

KAPUSO'T KAPAMILYA FOUNDATION, INC.

93,915,400

IKAW AT AKO FOUNDATION, INC.

19,400,000

KABUHAYAN AT KALUSUGANG ALAY SA MASA FOUNDATION

179,741,000

GABAY AT PAG-ASA NG MASA FOUNDATION, INC.

52,865,000

KASANGGA SA MAGANDANG BUKAS FOUNDATION, INC.

56,551,000

KAAGAPAY MAGPAKAILANMAN FOUNDATION, INC.

63,122,750

TOTAL

497,120,150

Source: GMA News Research, based on data from the Commission on Audit

Altogether, these foundations received PDAF amounting to almost half a billion pesos in the years audited by COA.

The three foundations that received the biggest government funds were PDAF recipients on three different years, despite COA's observations of their involvement in irregular transactions with NABCOR.
 
Fertilizer fund mess
 
Irregularities in government transactions, particularly in the agriculture sector, with NGOs/ POs are nothing new.

COA's 2008 release of a special audit on the P728 million Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) farm input fund, which uncovered what is now known as the fertilizer fund scam, has led to the revision and tightening of guidelines on government transactions with foundations.
 
The Senate probed the fertilizer scam, conducting inquiries in 2005, 2006 and 2008. The report it released in February 2009 recommended the filing of charges, but only against officials no higher than an agriculture undersecretary.
 
A plunder complaint against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in relation to the scandal was filed in June 2011 before the Department of Justice (DOJ). The following month, the Ombudsman ordered the probe on Mrs. Arroyo's alleged involvement in the case, which has yet to reach the preliminary investigation stage.
 
Inaction on the fertilizer fund scam was one of the charges leveled against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in two impeachment charges against her. In 2011, the House impeached Gutierrez, who resigned before she could face trial in the Senate.
 
To date, the fertilizer fund scam has yet to be resolved. — RSJ/YA/HS, GMA News

Go to comments



We welcome healthy discussions and friendly debate! Please click Flag to alert us of a comment that may be abusive or threatening. Read our full comment policy here.
Comments Powered by Disqus