COA: 2 more senators linked to pork scam
MANILA, Philippines (Updated) – Expect more names to come out when the Commission on Audit (COA) releases its next report.
On the first day of the Senate probe into the pork barrel scam Thursday, August 29, COA chairperson Grace Pulido Tan revealed two more senators were found to have misused their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Details will be included in an upcoming agency-specific audit report on the Philippine Forest Corp (Phil Forest), a government-controlled corporation, she said.
Asked to identify the senators, Tan declined pending the release of the report. In a report it released two weeks ago, Tan identified 192 solons in the misuse of the pork barrel. Looking into senators’ fund releases from 2007 to 2009, COA found that allocations under the names of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, and Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada repeatedly went to 3 to 8 NGOs that Napoles runs either directly or through dummies.
Senate President Franklin Drilon pressed Tan to name names, saying it was unfair for all those inside the Senate hall to be a suspect.
Tan maintained she could not do so due to protocol but she provided hints on who they are.
"Would it be sufficient to say for now to say that the two are not in this hall right?" Tan said.
Other senators present at the hearing include: Senate Blue Ribbon chair TG Guingona, Senate Majority Leader Alan Cayetano, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, senators Sonny Angara, Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Chiz Escudero, Koko Pimentel, Grace Poe, Serge Osmeña and Antonio Trillanes IV.
Sen Jinggoy Estrada attended the hearing but inhibited himself from the proceedings. The senators who did not attend the hearing were Enrile, Revilla, Senators Gregorio Honasan, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Loren Legarda, Lito Lapid, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Vicente Sotto III and Cynthia Villar.
What about 2010 onwards?
The special COA report on the PDAF only covered 2007 to 2009. Tan said an audit was already ongoing when she assumed position in 2011.
Will COA release another report covering years beyond 2009?
Tan did not give a categorical response but she said COA has also produced audit reports containing details on how PDAF was used beyond 2009.
However, these reports focus on specific agencies and local government units, not on PDAF itself. The following reports are:
- 2008 National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR) annual audit report
- 2012 annual audit report of Dinalupihan Bataan
- 2012 annual audit report of PIlar, Bataan
- 2010 annual audit report of Antipolo City
COA will release its audit report on Phil Forest in "one to two" weeks. Tan said they are still "carefully validating" the report after "clerical errors" were found in its audit report on PDAF.
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