MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Audit (COA) pinned the blame on the office of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for the misuse of P759.1 million worth of lawmakers' funds in a report released on Friday, October 10.
State auditors found that the amount, channeled to the Department of Agricutlure (DA) between December 2011 to October 2012, went to fake non-governmental organizations that mostly belong to the Godofredo Roque network of NGOs.
“The audit team believes that the DA is the primary implementing agency of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) projects and is therefore, responsible for the efficient and effective implementation of these projects,” COA said.
The report noted that the DA used satellite agencies, including the National Agri-Business Corporation (Nabcor), Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), the Philippine Carabao Center, and the National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC), as conduits instead of implementing the projects itself as required by law.
“There is no need to use a conduit agency for the implementation of the PDAF projects. Instead, it should be the one to find the eligible and qualified NGOs for the purpose,” it added.
But Alcala said he has never heard of Godofredo Roque.
He told reporters on Monday, October 13, that it was his first time to hear the allegations.
"Hindi ko po alam ang sinasabi niyo (I don't know what you are talking about). We have to check on that," he said.
He added that he has not yet received a copy of the COA report and that it was his first time to hear the name of Godofredo Roque.
Some lawmakers who have been dragged in the pork barrel scam had earlier denied knowing that their discretionary funds went to bogus non-governmental organization. Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of the 3 senators charged with plunder and graft in connection with the scam, has maintained it is the responsibility of implementing agencies to verify whether the NGOs were fake.
Despite the allegations, Alcala continues to enjoy the President's trust. President Benigno Aquino III earlier said he would not fire cabinet officials implicated in the pork barrel scam in the absence of sufficient evidence.
COA found that 23 projects covered by the report were awarded to only 3 NGOs, which shared the same sets of officers.
The NGOs were:
The NGOs did not belong to network of NGOs of alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, who is facing plunder charges for the scam, but rather to the so-called Godofredo Roque network.
The report found all 3 NGOs shared the following officers and incorporators:
“The above NGOs which are owned/managed by the same persons resulted in monopoly of implementing the PDAF projects by making it appear that the three NGOs are independent and separate from each other,” COA said.
COA noted that DA-NAFC only released P116.752 million to NGOs endorsed by legislators out of the P199.4 million worth of funds allocated to NAFC. Of the 59 PDAF-funded projects covered by the report, only 8 validation reports were submitted, COA said.
Other anomalies in the transactions noted by COA include:
COA's latest report on the Priority Development Assistance Fund covered 59 memoranda of agreement with the NAFC for the PDAF-funded Integrated Livelihood Development Program with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and former and current members of the House of Representatives.
The representatives include:
– With a report from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com