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COA report: 11 people behind web of dubious NGOs in pork scam

For someone whose foundations received millions of funds for the implementation of government projects, Godofredo Roque is hard to locate. His six foundations have offices in Manila, Quezon City, Pasig and Valenzuela; these offices are themselves hard to find, are nonexistent, or are staffed by people who could not provide details on where Roque could be located. When GMA News Research and GMA Special Assignments Team finally located Roque, in Pampanga—one of his two addresses listed in corporate documents submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)—he refused to be interviewed, saying only that he has nothing to explain.

Roque has a lot of explaining to do. He is among those identified by the Commission on Audit (COA) as behind several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that again and again received funds from the government in irregular transactions. COA’s findings in its recently released special audit on Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Various Infrastructures including Local Projects (VILP) releases for the years 2007 to 2009 was so explosive it drove agency chair Grace Pulido-Tan to lament, “Kung si Cardinal Tagle ay napaluha, ako ay napahagulgol.”

COA, however, has been whimpering for years and years, and the release of its special audit is both a reiteration and a summary of some of the alarming findings the agency keeps observing in its annual reports. As early as 2007, COA in its audit of the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) already observed that several erring NGOs are being managed only by a select group of individuals. Godofredo Roque is one of them, and is also behind one of the dubious suppliers exposed by COA.

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

GMA News Research combed through audit reports of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agencies and agriculture-related government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs). COA identifies DA as one of the government agencies receiving the biggest fund releases from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). GMA News Research also reviewed COA’s fertilizer fund special audit, which among others exposed how government funds were funnelled into dubious NGOs.

In these audit reports, COA has identified at least 115 NGOs with various shortcomings in the way they received and handled funds from the government. Thirty-three of these NGOs were mentioned in more than one report, indicating that these had received funds anew despite still unresolved issues.

11 people, a network of 'NGOs'

Documents obtained from the Securities and Exchange Commission and reviewed by GMA News Research alongside the COA audit reports tell the story of a network of individuals seemingly using a string of foundations to illicitly obtain funds from the government. This dubious group is composed of 10 NGOs, eight of which were found questionable by COA.

Behind these foundations are the following individuals: Godofredo Roque (at least 6 NGOs and at least one company that supplied to these NGOs), Marilou Antonio (at least 6 NGOs), Miraflor Villanueva (at least 5 NGOs), Marilou Ferrer (at least 4 NGOs), Maria Apolinario (at least 3 NGOs), Allen Calma (at least 3 NGOs), Francisca Mercado (at least 3 NGOs), Joel Soriano (at least 3 NGOs), Ruby Ramos (at least 2 NGOs), Carlos Soriano (at least 2 NGOs) and Julie Ann Unico (at least 2 NGOs).

GMA News was able to talk with only Roque and Ferrer, who were evasive in their similar responses. Antonio’s residence was tracked but she could not be located. Villanueva, according to her son (who granted GMA News an interview but said he does not know much about the foundations), said the former is now living in the US. All eleven were sent requests for interview, but GMA News is yet to hear from them.

Altogether, this seeming NGO mafia in their repeated offenses had amassed almost a billion pesos in government funds, a rather spectacular sum for organizations formed supposedly not for profit. This said amount is based alone on the scope of COA’s PDAF and VILP special audit; the actual could be bigger when other agencies and fund releases for other years are considered.

Roque dubious supplier, too

GMA News Research found that Godofredo Roque is linked to the following foundations found erring by state auditors:

  • Ikaw at Ako Foundation, Inc. (Treasurer, GIS 2006)
  • Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc. (Incorporator, Member of the Board, VP, GIS2013)
  • Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation (Incorporator, Member of the Board, CEO, GIS2012)
  • Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation, Inc. (Incorporator, Trustee, AI2007)
  • Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc.   (Incorporator, Trustee, AI2007)

SEC documents also show that he is connected to Kapanalig ng Masa sa Kaunlaran Foundation, Inc.

Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation, Inc. (KKAMFI) received funds amounting to P308.218 million from the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) from 2007 to 2009 for the implementation of various livelihood training projects and for the procurement of livelihood technology kits. KKAMFI, with Godofredo Roque as incorporator, transacted with 13 suppliers which issued questionable receipts purportedly issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) but covering the same series of receipt numbers.

Among the 13 suppliers with doubtful receipts is one George Roque Enterprises, incorporator: Godofredo Roque, based its corporate filings with the SEC. George Roque Enterprises, COA discovered, used the same authority to print (ATP) receipts used by the Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc., also one of the NGOs in the Roque web.

GMA News Research and GMA Special Assignments Team paid a visit to the listed corporate address of George Roque Enterprises in a subdivision in Cainta, Rizal and were surprised to find that said address is a residential unit. Interviews with neighbors led to a more startling discovery: its present occupants are family members of Marilou Antonio, who is herself a part of the web of interlocking NGOs and is an incorporator of Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. Antonio is also linked to the following five foundations:

  • Ikaw at Ako Foundation, Inc. (Project Coordinator, COA)
  • Kabuhayan at Kalusigang Alay sa Masa Foundation (Incorporator, Member of the Board, CFO, GIS2012/ AAI2011)
  • Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation, Inc. (Incorporator, Member of the Board, Trustee, GIS 2013/ AI2007)
  • Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. (Incorporator, Trustee, AI2007)
  • Gabay sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. (president, authorized representative, COA)

GMA News diligently tried to contact Antonio, even sending her a formal request letter for an interview, to get her side on the issue but as of press time is yet to hear from her.

Moving addresses, lone staff, non-existent offices

KKAMFI, the COA special audit also notably revealed, used P9.533 million of the funds it received from the government for its own administrative costs, contrary to COA rules and regulations.

The said foundation and Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation, Inc. (GPMFI), another Roque foundation, list as their corporate address a building along E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue in Ugong, Pasig. KKAMFI does indeed have an office on the third floor of the building.

The supposed office of GPMFI, meanwhile, was closed. The lone KKAMFI staff member present in the office, who introduced herself as Mona Corpuz, said that GPMFI temporarily shared KKAMFI’s office before it transferred somewhere else only on August 1 this year. She would not disclose the exact location of GPMFI’s supposed new office.

Corpuz also would not say more about the incorporators and officers of the two foundations except that they were out doing field work. She did however provide Marilou Ferrer’s mobile phone number. Ferrer, like Roque and Antonio, had also been on COA’s radar even before it released its PDAF and VILP special audit last week. She is connected to at least four foundations:

  • Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc. (Incorporator, Member of the Board, Treasurer, AI/ GIS2013)
  • Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation (Incorporator, Member of the Board, Corporate Secretary, GIS2012/ AAI2011)
  • Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation, Inc.
  • Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation (Project Coordinator, COA)

GMA News Research was able to reach Ferrer through the mobile number Corpuz furnished. Her answer was very similar to Roque’s: she said she has nothing to explain, even before being asked. She also refused to provide details on her associates in the NGO network. GMA News also personally delivered Ferrer a formal letter in an address listed in documents submitted to the SEC. She received the letter herself but did not grant interview, only saying that her foundations are still deciding whether to issue a statement or not.

The case of Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. is suggestive of the doubtful nature of these interlocking NGOs. Someone looking for the foundation’s corporate office would be surprised to find that one of its addresses listed in its SEC filings is a residential building in Sampaloc, Manila. Most of the members of the family occupying said address supposedly are now living abroad, and one elderly relative, who is unaware of the foundation, told GMA News she has been living there for more than 20 years.

Neighbors however are familiar with the last name Villanueva, a supposed relation of the owners of the Sampaloc residence. Miraflor Villanueva, one of the interlocking incorporators, listed the Sampaloc address in documents submitted to the SEC. She is linked to at least four foundations found doubtful by COA:
  • Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation (Incorporator, GIS2012)
  • Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. (Incorporator, Trustee, AI2007)
  • Gabay sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. (owner of residential unit where the NGO held office, COA)
  • Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (Trustee, Secretary, GIS2006)

A search with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also shows her an incorporator of Center for National Economic Relief, Inc.

GMA News Research and GMA Special Assignments Team traced the addresses of two foundations which are not on paper linked to Villanueva – Gabay at Pag-asa ng Masa Foundation, Inc. and Ikaw at Ako Foundation, Inc. – to her residential address in a subdivision in Veinte Reales, Valenzuela City. Her son, Lord Villanueva, told GMA News that Miraflor had already migrated to the United States, but said he remembers the upper floor of their house being used as an office of a foundation before. He also disclosed that Miraflor once worked for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Also indicative of the interlocking nature of these dubious foundations are listed corporate addresses of one foundation which upon inspection turn out to be hosting a different foundation within the web. In looking for the office of Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc., GMA News Research and GMA Special Assignments Team accidentally finally found the office of Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc. in a building along Quezon Ave., Quezon City. Said office similarly had only one staff member present, who told GMA News she reports to CEO Marilou Antonio while everyone else is out in the field. The said staff member, who introduced herself as Maribel Sagun, said she has been working for the foundation for a year but has never been to its listed office in Sampaloc.

P8.9 billion unliquidated by NGOs/ POs since 2001

In its 2013 PDAF and VILP special audit, COA notes that the various implementing government agencies it audited generally responded by saying their role was merely to facilitate the transfer of funds and their intervention in the implementation of projects by erring NGOs tended to be only recommendatory since the NGOs themselves were endorsed by the sponsoring legislators. COA firmly rebuked this response by reiterating that the fiscal responsibility to ensure that all government funds are used in accordance with laws and regulations and safeguarded against loss or improper disposition “rests on the head of the concerned government agency.”

“The IAs [implementing agencies], being government agencies, cannot relinquish this responsibility and claim minimal participation and responsibilities as mere conduits of funds or documents,” COA sternly said in its rejoinder, adding that “More than simply receiving any and all documents submitted by NGOs, a large part of the IAs responsibility is to look into the feasibility of the project proposals and the qualifications of the NGOs to be involved in the projects.”

This is only proper exercise of due diligence, according to COA, to ensure that “people’s money us not wasted or misused.”

Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, who was Budget Secretary during the years covered by the COA special audit, admitted that syndicate groups had always been a problem, especially with pork barrel fund releases.

“Maraming nagre-request sa amin sa probinsya na naglalako ng SARO [special allotment release order] kaya padala kami nang padala ng sulat at advisory sa mga pahayagan sa publiko na wag maniwala,” he told GMA News. “This has been a nagging problem,” he added, saying that he is willing to cooperate in any investigation on the dubious fund releases.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) meanwhile, according to Secretary Proceso Alcala, is now working on the addition of further safeguards in dealing with non-governmental organizations.

“Ngayon po, nagfa-finalize din po kami ng mga dagdag pa pong safety nets. Para mas palalimin pa namin. We are even asking kung meron pang national na samahan ng mga naga-accredit talaga ng NGO para makasama naman po dito sa pagdo-double check naming,” he told GMA News, adding that the department hopes to “finish everything within this week po.”

Going by COA’s financial reports, government subsidy to NGOs and people’s organizations (POs) in recent years amounts to an average of almost half a billion a year, with a total of P3.9 billion from 2003 to 2011.

As of 2011 meanwhile, the national government awaits the liquidation of some P8.9 billion from various NGOs and people’s organizations. The outstanding accumulated balance has grown by almost 300% from only P2.2 billion back in 2001. The said amount is big enough to run an entire government department or two for a year. — with reports from Agatha Guidaben, Jamaica Jane Pascual and GMA Special Assignments Team/BM, GMA News