21 members of 17th Congress in PDAF-COA audit report

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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21 members of 17th Congress in PDAF-COA audit report
4 senators, 15 district representatives, and 2 party-list representatives of the current Congress are listed in the special COA audit report related to the misuse of pork barrel

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the 17th Congress are set to convene for the first time at the opening of their first regular session on Monday, July 25, along with the very first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Composing the current batch of Congress are 24 senators, 238 district representatives, and 59 partylist representatives.

Among them are 4 senators, 15 district representatives, and two partylist representatives whose names appeared in the special audit report that resulted from the probe into the release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to questionable non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 2007 to 2009.

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
Conrado Estrella III Abono representative  
Rodante Marcoleta 1-SAGIP representative  

In the audit report, Villanueva was CIBAC partylist representative, Zubiri was Bukidnon 3rd district representative and senator, Uy was Cagayan de Oro City 1st district representative, and Fuentebella was Camarines Norte 3rd district representative.

These 21 lawmakers are among the 48 lawmakers in the COA special report who won in the 2016 elections.

Also, they are part of the Congress that will no longer receive pork barrel funding. The Supreme Court decided on November 2013 to junk the PDAF due to its unconstitutionality.

Representatives Uy (Cagayan de Oro City), Salimbangon (Cebu), Zamora (San Juan City), and 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.


There are 3 Congress winners, however, whose fate in the whole PDAF scam remains uncertain with the Ombudsman. Luckily for them, the Ombudsman’s orders were never an issue for their candidacies since no formal charges were filed yet against them.

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

Then in March 2016, the Ombudsman affirmed the findings of probable cause to indict 5 officials. Two of them – Biazon and Pingoy – ran for Congress and won in this year’s elections.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers who were implicated in PDAF-related cases chose not to run for a pork-less Congress, but instead fielded their relatives:

‘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.”

There are fears that the PDAF may return – after the limit on the proposed annual budget for each legislative district increased from P70 million under the 16th Congress to P80 million in the 17th Congress.

But presumptive House Speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez dismissed this, saying that “congressmen will be allowed to propose projects needed in their districts so they can be included in the line budgeting of the General Appropriations Act (GAA).” – Rappler.com

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