News

P150M in DAR funds went to NGOs picked by Honasan, Estrada

User Rating:  / 0
PoorBest 

Two years after the plunder of the Malampaya Fund, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) continued to be the clearinghouse of lawmakers’ pork barrel funds channeled to bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs).

 

Documents obtained by the Inquirer showed that P230 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) went to 16 dubious NGOs in 2011 through agreements to distribute agricultural livelihood packages forged between local government units (LGUs) and DAR Undersecretaries Narciso Nieto, Jerry Pacturan and Perry Felix Villanueva.

The DAR releases included funding initiatives made by Senators Gregorio Honasan II (P100 million) and Jinggoy Estrada (P50 million) approved by Senate President Franklin Drilon (who was then chair of the Senate finance committee that served as the gatekeeper of PDAF releases of its members).

The documents did not contain the identities of the lawmakers behind the remaining P80 million.

In a phone interview, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the fund releases were under investigation by Undersecretary Anthony Parungao.

On Oct. 3, the National Bureau of Investigation filed plunder charges in the Office of the Ombudsman against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, three of her Cabinet secretaries and 20 others for allegedly stealing P900 million from the Malampaya Fund coursed through the DAR for victims of Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009.

The Ombudsman is also poised to file a separate case of graft in connection with the diversion of P200 million in DAR funds meant to benefit beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

In both the Malampaya and CARP raids, Janet Lim-Napoles is a principal respondent. Napoles is also facing plunder charges for allegedly masterminding the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

 

Dubious NGOs probed

De los Reyes said the probe into the P230-million racket would determine how these NGOs with dubious background and tainted record during the past administration were able to access funds on his watch. “We want to know who are the persons responsible for these releases. We also want to know where these funds were sourced,” he said.

Nieto, who resigned in October last year, signed some of the agreements on behalf of De los Reyes while other contracts were signed by Pacturan. Both Pacturan and Villanueva (who handled the agency’s bidding and awards committee and finance division) oversaw the release of the checks to the NGOs.

Based on the documents, Drilon approved the requests of Honasan and Estrada to release P150 million of their pork allocations to the DAR’s livelihood projects upon the request of local governments.

Honasan requested De los Reyes that P100 million of his PDAF allocation be granted to 10 towns—Benito Soliven and San Pablo in Isabela; Samal, Bagac, and Mariveles in Bataan; Porac, Pampanga; Malolos, San Ildefenso, Paombong in Bulacan; and Carasi, Ilocos Norte. Each town was given P10 million.

Estrada requested P50 million of his pork be released to 10 towns—Dinalupihan and Pilar in Bataan; General Nakar and Infanta in Quezon; San Nicolas, Batangas; Umingan, Rosales, Calasiao and San Nicolas in Pangasinan; and Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Each town was given P5 million.

Honasan said he would verify the authenticity of the funds released under his name. “I want to stress that I have no discretion in choosing the recipient NGOs. I only endorsed the local government unit receiving the fund,” Honasan said in a text message.

 

Request to Estrada

In a phone interview, Estrada said he would check his records whether he actually endorsed the release of the funds. Estrada, however, noted that he only endorsed the LGU as recipients to the implementing agency and that the mayors were left to pick the implementing NGOs.

In a letter to Estrada on March 16, 2011, requesting P5 million for financial assistance to her constituents, Infanta Mayor Filipina Grace R. America wrote, “I wish to request that the above funding support be implemented by Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. to manage the execution of the project.”  The NGO is one of the fake foundations linked to Napoles, who is detained for the alleged illegal detention of a whistle-blower in the scam.

Although Napoles accounted for 10 of the 15 NGOs in the DAR pork barrel scam during the “daang matuwid” era, her group accounted for only 28 percent, or P65 million, of the P230 million released by the DAR to fake NGOs in 2011.

These are the same NGOs allegedly used by Napoles to divert into her pocket P900 million from the Malampaya Fund in 2009 and P200 million from agrarian reform funds in 2007, both coursed through the DAR under then Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and Nieto.

In 2011, Napoles had fierce competition for DAR funds from rival NGOs that were also believed to be fake: Workphil Foundation Inc. (P60 million); Divine Grace Enhancement Foundation Inc. (P40 million); Samahan sa Magsasaka sa Kapatagan at Kabundukan Foundation Inc. (P50 million); Focus on Development Goals Foundation Inc. or FDGFI (P10 million); and Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (P5 million).

In 2011, Workphil and FDGFI also received P50 million and P140 million, respectively, in pork through Philippine Forest Corp. with the endorsement of Honasan.

The Filipino Express

2711 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ 07306 USA.

Phone: 201 434-1114
Fax: 201 434-0880

www.filipinoexpress.com
E-mail: Filexpress@aol.com

Who's Online

We have 523 guests and no members online