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Napoles NGOs among dubious recipients of P6-B in public funds — COA chief

(Updated 9:10 p.m.) Some P6.156-billion pork barrel from close to 200 lawmakers went to 82 mostly dubious non-government organizations (NGOs) from 2007 to 2009, including 10 linked to controversial businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the head of the Commission on Audit (COA) bared Friday.

At a press conference, COA chief Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan said many of these NGOs had dubious addresses, with some traced to shanties or were actually home addresses of some members.

The NGOs linked to Napoles received pork barrel funds amounting to P2.157 billion, the COA report said.

The report said the intended beneficiaries of the funds had denied receiving the goods. It also said some NGOs' list of beneficiaries showed names of board passers. The same names were also said to have attended different trainings supposedly funded by the pork barrel.

These NGOs spent the pork barrel funds allotted by the implementing agency without an appropriating law or ordinance, in violation of procurement rules. According to a Government Procurement Police Board's resolution, implementing agency may only give funds to NGOs upon the passage of an appropriating law or ordinance.

The NGOs also did not undergo competitive public bidding, in violation of a COA circular. The COA noted too that "(t)here were no proof that these NGOs exercised due diligence in ensuring that the lowest price for their procurements were obtained," violating the procurement law.

Some NGOs were managed by the same persons serving as incorporator.

Pork barrel whistleblower Benhur Luy was also found to have managed two questionable foundations.

Tan also said that based on the special audit conducted by the commission in 2010 covering the years from 2007 to 2009, 74 lawmakers received pork barrel beyond their respective allocations of P70 million per year. She said the excess funds ranged from P71 million to P3 billion.

Ironically, based on the COA report, the largest allocation — P3 billion — went to then-Davao del Norte Rep. Manuel Zamora, a lawmaker known for regularly commuting to the Batasan Pambansa using his bike.

Zamora, now vice governor of Compostela Valley, denied this in an interview on GMA News' "24 Oras."

Among the senators, Edgardo Angara received the largest excess pork funds, including both soft and hard projects, worth P384.375 million, followed by Jinggoy Estrada with P402.15 million, Juan Ponce Enrile with P347.5 million, Bong Revilla with P269 million, Miriam Defensor-Santiago with P26.51 million, and Lito Lapid with P13.6 million.

The COA report also said eight lawmakers were found to have allocated pork barrel funds outside their constituency. These were Zamora, who poured P3 billion to the DPWH for nationwide use; Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco, who allocated P3.88 million to Cebu province; and Lanao del Sur Rep. Faysah Dumarpa, who gave P6 million to Iligan City, Misamis Occidental;

Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman gave P60.5 million to 28 barangays in Quezon City, and P25.5 million to Nueva Ecija and Pampanga; while Davao City Rep. Prospero Nograles spent P74 million for Taguig and Mandaluyong, P20 million for Bataan, P55 million for Sorsogon and Masbate, P135 million for Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao Del Sur, and Compostela Valley, as well as P780 million for various local government units.

Tarlac Rep. Monica Louise Prieto-Teodoro spent P1 million for Manila, while Las Piñas Rep. and now Senator Cynthia Villar spent P1.322 million for nationwide use.

The COA also found out that the funds for various infrastructures including local projects (VILP), or the "hard projects," amounted to P101.608 billion for the three-year period, which exceeded the allotted VLIP release of P50.874 billion by almost 100 percent or P50.734 billion.

Meanwhile, one non-lawmaker, identified as "Luis Abalos," received P20 million pork barrel, which no government agency could explain, Tan said, citing the COA report.

Lack of monitoring

The COA also noted the lack of monitoring on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on the fund releases. It said the DBM failed to provide COA the schedule of releases per legislator. For the audit, the COA only audited releases to regions III, V, XI, and NCR, and certain implementing agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Citing the contents of the report, Tan said the legislators and the government agencies that released funds to the NGOs did not bother to check on the capability of the NGO to implement a project.

“Yung mga ahensiya, they simply turned around... binigay sa NGO yung livelihood project. They simply turned around and transferred the funds to the NGOs identified or selected by the legislator,” she said, adding this runs contrary to a resolution of the Government Procurement and Policy Board.

The briefing was held amid the controversy involving the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds that centers on Napoles, who is currently in hiding after she and her brother were ordered arrested for a serious illegal detention case.

Napoles was accused of diverting some P10 billion government funds to her account through her NGOs. Two of her former employees, Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas, had implicated her in the supposed scam.

Luy, who claimed he was in the employ of Napoles for 10 years, alleged in a sworn affidavit that the modus operandi includes a 70-30 sharing scheme, with the legislator getting 70 percent while she keeps 30 percent.

Napoles has denied the accusation.  – KBK/RSJ/HS, GMA News