48 lawmakers in PDAF-COA audit report win in 2016 elections

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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48 lawmakers in PDAF-COA audit report win in 2016 elections
Among those mentioned in the COA report, only 86 decide to run. And just a little more than half of them are successful in their bids.

MANILA, Philippines – Did the exposés in 2013 on the pork barrel fund scam have any effect on this year’s elections?

Out of the more than 100 legislators mentioned in the special audit report that looked into the release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009, only 86 filed their candidacies for various positions in the 2016 elections.

After the elections, we discovered that only a little more than half of them – or 48 – successfully clinched another term in public office.

Out of these winners, 40% are back in Congress, while the remaining 60% were elected to various local government positions.

Included in this 48, however, are those who were the subject of complaints filed before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Returning legislators

Out of the legislators identified by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its audit report, 29 ran for district representative and 5 ran for senator in the 2016 polls.

However, only 15 House candidates and 4 Senate hopefuls were successful in their election bids.

Name Position Party
Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva senator LP
Juan Miguel F. Zubiri senator independent
Ralph G. Recto senator LP
Richard J. Gordon senator Bagumbayan-VNP
Lorna C. Silverio Bulacan, 3rd district representative NUP
Rolando A. Uy Cagayan de Oro City, 1st district representative 1STP
Renato J. Unico Jr Camarines Norte, 1st district representative LP
Arnulfo P. Fuentebella Camarines Sur, 4th district representative NPC
Benhur L. Salimbangon Cebu, 4th district representative NUP
Ramon H. Durano VI Cebu, 5th district representative NPC
Federico S. Sandoval II Malabon City, lone district representative NPC
Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon Muntinlupa City, lone district representative LP
Aurelio D. Gonzales Jr Pampanga, 3rd district representative NPC
Vincent P. Crisologo Quezon City, 1st district representative UNA
Michael John R. Duavit Rizal, 1st district representative NPC
Ronaldo B. Zamora San Juan City, lone district representative NP
Robert Ace S. Barbers Surigao del Norte, 2nd district representative NP
Prospero A. Pichay Jr Surigao del Sur, 1st district representative LAKAS-CMD
Ann K. Hofer Zamboanga Sibugay, 2nd district representative LP

These lawmakers will be part of the 17th Congress which will no longer receive pork barrel funding. The Supreme Court decided on November 2013 to junk the PDAF due to its unconstitutionality.

Representatives Rolando Uy (Cagayan de Oro City), Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu), Ronaldo Zamora (San Juan City), and Ann Hofer (Zamboanga Sibugay) were part of the 16th Congress, which received initial pork barrel funding in 2013. The SC ordered that the remaining 2013 PDAF allocations yet to be released to lawmakers be returned to the national treasury.

The SC decision follows the exposés in July 2013 of the alleged misuse of the multi-billion pork barrel fund, with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles as the alleged mastermind.

Local positions

Meanwhile, 49 former lawmakers identified in the COA audit report tried their luck in local races this year. But only 29 of them succeeded.

This includes 13 governors, 3 vice governors, 10 mayors, 2 vice mayors, and 1 councilor.

Name Position LGU
Florencio T. Miraflores governor Aklan
Al Francis C. Bichara governor Albay
Elias C. Bulut Jr governor Apayao
Gerardo J. Espina Jr governor Biliran
Edgardo M. Chatto governor Bohol
Douglas R.A. Cagas governor Davao del Sur
Nelson L. Dayanghirang governor Davao Oriental
Antonio T. Kho governor Masbate
Herminia M. Ramiro governor Misamis Occidental
Yevgeny Vincente B. Emano governor Misamis Oriental
Carlos M. Padilla governor Nueva Vizcaya
Alfonso V. Umali Jr governor Oriental Mindoro
Sharee Ann T. Tan governor Samar
Manuel E. Zamora vice governor Compostela Valley
Gregorio T. Ipong vice governor Cotabato
Franklin P. Bautista vice governor Davao Occidental
Arthur F. Celeste mayor Alaminos City, Pangasinan
Mauricio G. Domogan mayor Baguio City
Oscar G. Malapitan mayor Caloocan City
Philip A. Pichay mayor Cantilan, Surigao del Sur
Mar-Len Abigail S. Binay mayor Makati City
Jurdin Jesus M. Romualdo mayor Mambajao, Camiguin
Marcelino R. Teodoro mayor Marikina City
Arturo B. Robes mayor San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan
Eduardo R. Gullas mayor Talisay City, Cebu
Maria Isabelle G. Climaco mayor Zamboanga City
Bernardo F. Piñol Jr vice mayor Kidapawan City, Cotabato
Antonio P. Yapha Jr vice mayor Toledo City, Cebu
Adam Relson L. Jala councilor Tagbilaran, Bohol

Majority of these local poll winners left Congress before the PDAF was abolished. Only 9 of them were still House members when the SC decided on the pork barrel:

  • Franklin Bautista (Davao del Sur 2nd district)
  • Al Francis Bichara (Albay 2nd district)
  • Mar-len Abigail Binay (Makati City 2nd district)
  • Nelson Dayanghirang (Davao Oriental 1st district)
  • Carlos Padilla (Nueva Vizcaya lone district)
  • Philip Pichay (Surigao del Sur 1st district)
  • Arturo Robes (San Jose del Monte City lone district)
  • Marcelino Teodoro (Marikina City 1st district)
  • Alfonso Umali Jr (Oriental Mindoro 1st district)

At least 2 gubernatorial winners who were cited in the COA audit report defeated contenders who were also identified in the report.

In Davao Oriental, the Liberal Party’s Dayanghirang won against Thelma Almario of the Nationalist People’s Coalition. COA said the two released P5.4 million each of their pork barrel to questionable NGOs.

Meanwhile, in Masbate, the Nacionalista Party’s Antonio Kho defeated Narciso Bravo Jr of the National Unity Party and outgoing governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of the NPC. COA questioned Kho’s P9.7 million and Bravo’s P2.7 million releases.

Lanete, whom the COA report said released P107.3 million, was charged with plunder and 11 counts of graft, and was detained in February 2015. She was, however, allowed to join the local race, and was even granted bail a month before the elections.


There are 5 poll winners, however, whose fate in the whole PDAF scam remains uncertain.

CONGRESS WINNERS. From left to right: Rozzano Rufino Biazon, Joel Villanueva, Marc Douglas Cagas IV, Arrel Olaño, and Arthur Pingoy Jr. Photos from Rappler and House of Representatives

In August 2015, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered a preliminary investigation and administrative proceedings against various officials, including Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) head Villanueva.

Then in March 2016, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales affirmed the findings of probable cause to indict 5 officials. Four of them – Biazon, Cagas, Pingoy, and Olaño – ran and won in this year’s elections. 

Luckily for the 5, the Ombudsman’s orders were never an issue for their candidacies since no formal charges were filed against them.

Will the country see more legal action on the PDAF scam issue under the next administration? – Rappler.com

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