Sarangani ex-gov unaware of projects under PDAF scam

Edwin G. Espejo

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Former Gov Miguel Dominguez says if ex-Rep Erwin Chiongbian indeed had any livelihood project funded with his pork barrel, he would have issued a press release

Photo from the Sarangani Provincial Information Office

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Former Sarangani Gov Miguel Rene Dominguez said on Monday, July 15, he was not aware of any livelihood project in his province that was supposedly funded under a multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.

“I got intrigued by the report on Janet Napoles and the coop scam. [I’m] surprised to find out that Sarangani was a beneficiary,” Dominguez said in an email to Rappler.

The former Sarangani governor was referring to a newspaper report that named former Sarangani Rep Erwin Chiongbian as among the 28 legislators whose Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) were allegedly cornered by a syndicate over the course of 10 years.

Whistleblowers, who used to work for Napoles’ syndicate, said there were local government units that were listed as beneficiaries, but they didn’t receive the funds. The witnesses didn’t specify the LGUs.

According to the report, which was based on witnesses’ affidavits submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, up to P65.35 million of congressman Chiongbian’s pork barrel went to the dubious non-governmental organizations run by the syndicate.

According to the website of the Department of Budget and Management, P28.80 million and P15 million in PDAFs were released to Chiongbian’s office in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) was named sole recipient of the congressman’s P15-million PDAF in 2010.

In 2009, the same beneficiary received P3.8 million in May and P24.95 million in August.

The said releases were for livelihood projects for the province.

A check with the website of NLDC says it is a government-owned and controlled corporation which traces its roots to the Marcos-era Kilusang Kabuhayan and Kaunlaran.

Dominguez, however, said he was not aware of any project initiated by Chiongbian which was implemented by the NLDC while he was still governor of Sarangani.

“Normally, ‘pag may ganuon ka laking project nagpapa-press release ka (with a project that big you will issue a press release),” Dominguez explained.

Chiongbian ended his term in 2010. He was succeeded by Rep Manny Pacquiao, who defeated Erwin’s younger brother Roy Chiongbian in the 2010 elections.

Chiongbian is now reportedly abroad seeking medical attention.

“He has been in hospital abroad for over a month now,” said incumbent Sarangani Gov Steve Solon, a nephew of Chiongbian. – 

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