More Napoles-like syndicates probed
MANILA, Philippines – There are other Napoleses, yes, and the government is in hot pursuit of them too.
Malacañang gave assurances on Thursday, September 5, the government is also probing networks of fake NGOs (outside of Janet Lim-Napoles' syndicate) that have also cornered chunks of lawmakers' pork barrel.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) would investigate not just Napoles, but other names linked to anomalous nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
"The President tasked IAAGCC to investigate the 2007-2009 special audit report [of the Commission on Audit].... They will investigate, aside from the Napoles case, the PDAF (Priority Development and Assistance Fund)—the other things revealed in the 2007-2009 report," Lacierda said.
The IAAGCC consists of the Ombudsman, the Secretary of Justice, and the COA chairperson.
Lacierda said it would be COA's 2007-2009 special audit report that would be the basis of the IAAGCC's investigation.
On Friday, August 16, COA released its PDAF report which took two years to complete. It found 12 senators and 180 representatives channeled their PDAF or pork barrel to NGOs, which misused the funds, if not totally left them unaccounted for.
At least P6.156 billion was released to questionable NGOs. The report showed links of some dubious NGOs to Napoles, the alleged mastermind of a multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam. It also exposed names of other syndicates behind questionable organizations that received government funds.
The special COA report covered only the last 3 years of the Arroyo administration.
Rappler's special reports in July on the National Agri-Business Corporation (Nabcor) alone, covering COA reports for a longer period (until 2011) showed that these fake NGOs continued getting PDAF releases well into the Aquino administration.
Among the alleged syndicates in question is one headed by a certain Godofredo Roque, which the COA report identified as managing several dubious NGOs which received and misused lawmakers' PDAF.
The list of other syndicates dealing with Nabcor released by Rappler in July included Roque's. The other names found to be operating several NGOs that misused PDAF were:
- Marilou Antonio
- Marilou Ferrer
- Carlos Soriano
Another Rappler report shows that NGOs like these are endorsed by lawmakers and accredited by the implementing agencies.
Earlier, Lacierda told reporters Cabinet secretaries would be willing to attend the Senate's ongoing probe on the scam if invited.
But he also took the chance to defend Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who was tagged by the COA report as channeling his pork barrel to a dubious NGO when he was still a senator.
The report said Roxas, when he was senator, released P5 million of his pork barrel to Kaloocan Assistance Council Inc. (KACI) through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) Central Office.
Lacierda clarified KACI is not one of the NGOs linked to Napoles and said it is KACI that needs to explain why it spent the funds it received to "provide financial assistance to its employees." Roxas released his pork barrel for soft projects.
"That’s a question that should be asked from KACI. But this is not one of those NGOs that have been affiliated to Janet Napoles. And any suggestion that Secretary Mar Roxas is involved in any scam is malicious," he said.
Lacierda said Roxas is "very transparent" and is willing "to provide all the documents that can be found in the audit report of COA."
Roxas, a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), is being eyed as the LP's presidential candidate for 2016. – Rappler.com