MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) released on Friday, August 16, its much-awaited report on the special audit it conducted on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of senators and congressmen.
Sharing her sentiments over the extent of misuse of the pork barrel, COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan said, “Kung si Cardinal Tagle ay napaluha, ako ay napahagulgol (If Cardinal Tagle cried, I bawled), referring to how the Manila archbishop cried during a press conference condemning the pork barrel scam.
The special audit, which took two years to complete, found 12 senators and 180 representatives channelling their PDAF or pork barrel to non-government organizations (NGOs), which misused the funds, if not totally left them unaccounted for, Tan said.
Tan said they decided to do a special audit on the pork barrel because of the misuse they discovered since she assumed office.
The years covered the last 3 full years under the administration of President Gloria Arroyo – from 2007, when the mid-term elections were conducted, to 2009, before the presidential elections that Benigno Aquino III won.
While some lawmakers whom COA “reached out to” claimed that their signatures were forged, Tan made this general observation: “The releases were made essentially at the behest of the sponsoring legislators.”
Each senator has P200 million in PDAF every year, while each congressman – either district and party-list representative – has P70 million each. These are amounts are spread across a number of agencies, to which NGOs request for funds, backed by endorsements from the lawmakers.
The COA report shows that P101.6 billion was relased for “Various Infrastructures including Local Projects” (VILP), P12 billion for pork barrel, and P2.36 billion for financial assistance to LGUs.
COA’s audit covered P32.6 billion (325) of the VILP and P8 billion of the PDFA released by the Deparment of Budget and Management (DBM).
At least P6.156 billion were released to questionable NGOs. A total of 82 NGOs were found to have questionable backrgrounds and operations to begin with and eventually misused or failed to account for the funds.
Ten of these dubious NGOs, Tan said, are “presently linked” to Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind who is now the subject of an arrest warrant for illegally detaining an employee who has since turned against her.
Other major findings were:
- 74 lawmakers exceeded their allocations.
- 8 congressmen had their PDAF released for projects outside their legislative districts.
- 1 congressman received P3 billion, or an average of P1 billion a year, within the audited period.
- A certain Luis Abalos, who is not a congressman, received PDAF of P20 million.
- An NGO submitted as beneficiaries names taken from board and bar passers.
- 6 of the NGOs shared the same incorporators and officers, including relatives of congressmen from whom they received PDAF releases.
Some of the funded projects are more questionable than others, said Tan. The deficiency of implementation of the projects vary.
- Some NGOs registered addresses that cannot be located.
- Many suppliers are the same for many NGOs.
- Some projects were constructed in private lots.
- Questionable receipts were submitted.
Biggest releases tracked
COA only audited departments, government corporations, and local government units where the bulk of PDAF went.
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Public Works and Highways
- Department of Social Welfare and Development
4 government-owned and controlled corporations:
- National Agri-Business Corporation (Nabcor)
- National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC)
- Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC, now TRC)
- ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC)
5 provincial governments:
- Nueva Ecija
- Compostela Valley
- Davao Oriental
9 city governments:
- Quezon City
- Las Piñas
Among GOCCs, the ones that got the most releases were the TLRC and NLDC.
As for Nabcor and ZREC, this is where the agriculture department used put the PDAF that it received.
(READ Rappler’s series of reports analyzing the PDAF released through Nabcor)
Tan said of the audit work: “It’s been 3 years. Our fieldwork reached two years. You will see why it took that long. It’s detailed and we looked at various agencies, lawmakers, and suppliers and transctions, and NGOs and listed beneficiaries. We validated all these.”
She said they “reached out” to lawmakers, and a number of them said their signatures were forged.
A lot of the people they contacted either did not respond or denied they received the funds. – Rappler.com