86 solons in COA-PDAF report running in 2016 elections

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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86 solons in COA-PDAF report running in 2016 elections
(UPDATED) Among those mentioned in the COA report, 40% file their candidacies for another shot at the now 'pork-less' Congress

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – On this day in 2013 – just 6 months after the midterm elections back then – the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the legislators’ controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more popularly known as pork barrel.

This resulted in: (1) members of the 16th Congress not fully enjoying their pork barrel allocation for that year, and (2) members of the succeeding congresses no longer receiving this congressional funding.

But this SC ruling didn’t derail the plans of some politicians to still pursue congressional candidacies – including former legislators who were identified to have diverted their pork barrel allocations through questionable transactions.

Rappler found that out of the more than 100 legislators mentioned in the special audit report that looked into the release of PDAF to questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009, 86 are running for various positions in the 2016 elections.

This special audit report was released by the Commission on Audit (COA) after the scheme led by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles was exposed.

Mostly returning reps

Out of these 86, 34 (or around 40%) filed their candidacies, taking another shot at Congress: 29 for district representative, 5 for senator.

Name Position running for Status
Emmanuel Joel Villanueva senator shifting from House to Senate
Ferdinand Martin Romualdez senator shifting from House to Senate
Juan Miguel Zubiri senator returning
Ralph Recto senator reelectionist
Richard Gordon senator returning
Alipio Cirilo Badelles Iligan City, lone district representative returning
Ann Hofer Zamboanga Sibugay, 2nd district representative reelectionist
Arnulfo Fuentebella Camarines Sur, 4th district representative returning
Arrel Olaño Davao del Norte, 1st district representative returning
Arthur Pingoy Jr South Cotabato, 2nd district representative returning
Aurelio Gonzales Jr Pampanga, 3rd district representative returning
Aurelio Umali Nueva Ecija, 3rd district representative returning
Belma Cabilao Zamboanga Sibugay, 1st district representative reelectionist
Benhur Salimbangon Cebu, 4th district representative reelectionist
Bienvenido Abante Jr Manila, 6th district representative returning
Edgar San Luis Laguna, 4th district representative returning
Ernie Clarete Misamis Occidental, 1st district representative returning
Faysah Dumarpa Lanao del Sur, 1st district representative returning
Federico Sandoval II Malabon City, lone district representative returning
Generoso Tulagan Pangasinan, 3rd district representative returning
Joey Hizon Manila, 5th district representative returning
Liwayway Vinzons-Chato Camarines Norte, 2nd district representative returning
Lorna Silverio Bulacan, 3rd district representative returning
Mary Ann Susano Manila, 5th district representative returning
Michael John Duavit Rizal, 1st district representative returning
Prospero Pichay Jr Surigao del Sur, 1st district representative returning
Ramon Durano VI Cebu, 5th district representative returning
Renato Unico Jr Camarines Norte, 1st district representative returning
Robert Ace Barbers Surigao del Norte, 2nd district representative returning
Rodolfo Bacani Manila, 4th district representative returning
Rolando Uy Cagayan de Oro City, 1st district representative reelectionist
Ronaldo Zamora San Juan City, lone district representative reelectionist
Rozzano Rufino Biazon Muntinlupa City, lone district representative returning
Vincent Crisologo Quezon City, 1st district representative returning

Interestingly, majority of those running for district representative – 24 out of 29 – are returning congressmen. They were no longer in Congress when the Supreme Court decided on the fate of the pork barrel fund in 2013.

Only 5 congressional hopefuls are incumbents and are gunning for reelection.

At least 5 of the returning congressmen won’t be representing the same districts:

  • Susano was former Quezon City 2nd district representative (2004-2010)
  • Chato (2007-2010) and Unico (2004-2007) used to represent Camarines Norte when it was under a lone district
  • Badelles was former Lanao del Norte 1st district representative (1998-2007)
  • Sandoval used to represent the Malabon-Navotas district (1998-2007) before each of the two cities was given separate districts

Out of these 34, only 4 have so far been slapped with complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman: Villanueva, Biazon, Pingoy, and Olaño.

But the complaints were never an issue for their candidacies since no formal charges had been filed against them yet. (READ: Despite PDAF complaints, lawmakers file candidacies for 2016 polls)

Is this a sign that politicians are still interested to work even in a “pork-less” Congress?

‘Pork-less’ Congress?

Joy Aceron of the Ateneo School of Government said in a Rappler article that declaring PDAF unconstitutional “will drastically change the composition of Congress and could give birth to a new legislature resulting in different dynamics in legislative-making and the executive-legislative relationship.”

That is, she claimed, “if pork is not resurrected in any form.”

However, former senator Panfilo Lacson – famous for not touching his PDAF – revealed in a forum in August that there are a number of anomalous provisions in the 2015 budget which are believed to be cloaked pork barrel.

A petition was filed before the Supreme Court in September to stop the implementation of provisions pertaining to savings and realignment of funds in the national budget.

Other positions

Meanwhile, other legislators mentioned in the COA special audit filed their candidacies for the following positions:

  • 2 for president
  • 1 for vice president
  • 21 for governor
  • 5 for vice governor
  • 19 for mayor
  • 3 for vice mayor
  • 1 for councilor

Those running for national positions are presidential wannabes Mar Roxas (P5 million reported in COA report) and Miriam Defensor-Santiago (P300,000), and vice presidential hopeful Gringo Honasan (P55.25 million).

On the other hand, running for Masbate governor are the following former representatives, all identified in the COA report:

  • Antonio Kho (P9.7 million)
  • Narciso Bravo Jr (P2.7 million)
  • Rizalina Seachon-Lanete (P107.3 million)

Seachon-Lanete is currently detained for her plunder indictment over the pork barrel mess. She is one of the 5 government officials to have, so far, been charged with plunder – a non-bailable offense – before the Sandiganbayan in relation to the PDAF scam. (READ: Looking at plunder in the PDAF cases)

COA is yet to release another audit report that will look into the movement of pork barrel funds from 2010 onwards. – Rappler.com

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