Former undersecretary Narciso Nieto authorized the release of P900 million sourced from the Malampaya Fund to nine non-government organizations linked to alleged pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said on Friday.
Nieto was undersecretary of then DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman when the funds were released.
“The request was made by Undersecretary Nieto as the officer-in-charge. In the normal course of operation pwede siyang mag-request,” current DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes was quoted as saying in a television report aired on GMA’s “24 Oras” newscast on Friday.
“Kasi ginagawa naman palagi ‘yun ‘pag kinukulang ng pondo ang isang departamento, ginagawa ‘yun. But normally, an amount this big is normally cleared with the secretary,” the DAR chief also said.
GMA News tried to contact Nieto for comment, but he was not immediately available.
The DAR said the P900 million was supposed to have been distributed among areas affected by Typhoon Pepeng and Ondoy in 2009. DAR was the implementing agency.
Its investigation also revealed that the Malampaya fund went to 12 non-government organizations including the nine of Napoles.
The DAR has provided copies of checks to the National Bureau of Investigation. The checks were distributed to 97 towns that supposedly benefited from the fund.
“Hindi nadatnan ng internal audit kung nasaan na ‘yung mga NGO na ‘yun. Malalaman sa tseke saan naka-deposit ‘yung tseke, at ‘yung ang binigay natin sa NBI,” Delos Reyes noted.
Earlier, whistleblower Merlina Suñas, a former employee of Napoles, detailed
how the businesswoman drew the Malampaya fund.
Suñas said they forged documents including endorsement letters, project proposals and even mayors’ signatures.
Some mayors have denied
that their city or municipality gained from Malampaya fund.
The funds were released through NGOs, which were purportedly tapped by local government units to distribute “Farm Initiative Production Kits.”
According to DAR, the biggest chunk of the Malampaya Fund for LGUs was released to Region I. Pangasinan supposedly received P180 million for Urdaneta City, while other municipalities that also supposedly received P10 million each include Banna, Pagudpud, Bacarra, Paoay, Pasuquin, Solsona, Vintar, Sinait, Marcos and San Nicolas in Ilocos Norte; Bagulin and Tubao in La Union, and Pulilan in Bulacan. Background
The Malampaya Fund is a special account in the general fund (SAGF) of the national government and lodged with the Department of Energy, but some of it is not spent on energy projects.
It has long been the subject of Commission on Audit scrutiny.
In a 2010 annual audit report of the DOE, the COA said its analysis of SAGF-Malampaya Funds "revealed that, out of the P19.643 billion released to national government agencies, only P250 Million or 1.27% represented release to DOE for electrification of 211 barangays while P19.393 Billion or 98.73% was released to other national government agencies for various purposes other than exploration, development and exploitation of energy resources.
The COA also found that much of the Malampaya Fund, which in 2010 had a yearend balance of P77.187 billion, "remained continuously idle for the past 8 years."
State auditors also learned from DOE officials that the DOE had asked that the Malampaya Fund "be stricken out of the DOE budget since it is oftentimes a subject of inquiry during annual budget hearings."
P3.2 billion of the special fund was intended "to assist the Palawan LGUs until such time that the issue regarding the beneficiaries of the LGU share from the Malampaya project has been resolved."
Projects proposed for funding from the Malampaya Fund had to be approved by the Office of the President. Back then, it was Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who was president until June 30, 2010.
"Verification of SARO Releases out of the fund showed that for calendar years 2002 to 2010, out of total receipts of P102,466,420,051.18, a total of P23,601,594,569.51 was 12. released by the DBM to various government agencies and to the Province of Palawan," the COA said.
Only a fraction of the P23.6 billion or "only P250 Million or 1.27% represented release to DOE for electrification of 211 barangays."
The rest or P19.393 billion (98.73 percent) was for other purposes spread out over various departments.
COA said the executive department bases upon on Presidential Decree 910 its releases of the fund to other agencies for purposes other than for the exploration, development and exploitation of energy resources.
In 2011, the Aquino administration sourced P450 million from the Malampaya Fund for its Pantawid Pasada Program "which aimed to provide targeted relief to the public transport sector to cushion the impact of high fuel prices on the riding and consuming public," the COA reported.
"A total amount of P300 Million was released by the DBM to DOE for the Public Utility Jeepney (PUJ) driver beneficiaries while the remaining amount of P150 Million was released to the DILG for the tricycle driver beneficiaries," according to the COA report in 2011.
The Aquino administration also drew P138.2 million from the Malampaya Fund and distributed it to various electric cooperatives, non-governmental organizations and implementing agencies. — RD/ELR, GMA News