TWO more senators are likely to be included in the second batch of complaints the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will file in connection with the misuse of the legislative Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), according to former senator Panfilo Lacson.
Lacson on Sunday said that based on the information that he received, two more members of the Senate will be included in the second complaint. The charges might be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman this week.
He declined to identify the senators, saying the NBI will provide all the information about the case.
Prior to the filing of plunder complaints against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. on September 16, Lacson issued a statement saying that three senators and more than 20 congressmen face criminal charges in connection with the PDAF scam.
The Commission on Audit (COA), in a report issued in 2012, said two more senators funneled part of their pork barrel to a non-government organization (NGO) controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles. The COA report is different from the special audit made by the commission on the releases of PDAF to several NGOs put up by Napoles from 2007 to 2009.
In its recent report, COA said Senators Loren Legarda and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos gave P25 million of their PDAF to the People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc. (POPDF). The report said Marcos released P15 million to the group and Legarda, P10 million. The funds were supposedly for livelihood projects for farmers in Pilar and Dinalupihan towns in Bataan province.
The COA report noted several deficiencies. It said the funds were released even before the memorandums of agreement were notarized, no reports of project completion were submitted by the NGO, and there were no documents to prove procurements and payments. The actual distribution of goods could also not be ascertained.
“The POPDF was the recipient NGO identified and designated by the concerned senator to expedite the implementation of the project. Thus, the validation of the disbursements of Priority Development Assistance Funds cannot be made,” the COA said in its report.
During the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the pork barrel scam last week, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the filing of the second batch of criminal complaints was delayed because of several supervening matters which they had to attend to.
The DOJ was also supposed to file complaints against several local officials and other personalities implicated in the Malampaya fund scheme last week but was not able to do so.
“We can’t do it because our focus is already divided,” de Lima said.
Also last week, Napoles, the alleged brains of the pork barrel scam, threatened to name the other senators who were involved in the anomaly.
She said she will not make her revelations at the Senate.
Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona 3rd had urged Senate President Franklin Drilon to sign a summons for Napoles to appear before the Blue Ribbon but the latter acceded to the opinion of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales that summoning Napoles was not advisable.
Also yesterday, an official of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) lambasted what he said was a systematic political repression sanctioned by the Aquino administration against the Estrada family.
Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA secretary-general, said the entire bureaucracy and the heavy hand of the Liberal Party are being harnessed to gang up on the Estradas following the privilege speech of Senator Jinggoy Estrada last week.
Tiangco said Estrada opened a Pandora’s box which the administration is trying hard to cover up.
He pointed to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) decision to investigate the senator’s tax liability following reports that he was building a new mansion in San Juan City.
He also cited the disqualification of Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) which Tiangco views as a “token strike” intended to convey to the Estradas that there are more serious actions to follow.
“This government seems to manifest an unusually high interest in ganging up on the Estradas. There seems to be a bold campaign to politically persecute political enemies in an apparent bid to cripple the opposition,” Tiangco said.
“This is a ‘political exhibition’ to deflect the gamut of corruption among administration allies at the expense of one family,” he added.
Tiangco mentioned the pending disqualification case against Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada filed by the Liberal Party and the ongoing audit investigation on Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito.
“Using agencies of the government to harass the political opposition based on unproven allegations is tantamount to corruption. This is the exact opposition of ‘Tuwid na Daan’,” Tiangco said, referring to President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s clean government advocacy.
In his privilege speech Estrada claimed that senators who voted to convict former chief justice Renato Corona got P50 million each in additional PDAF allocation.
Senate President Franklin Drilon confirmed the PDAF “bonus” but denied that it was a bribe.
Drilon admitted receiving P100 million on top of his annual P200 million PDAF. He said the fund was for the government’s expenditure utilization program to meet the targeted economic growth rate.
Senators Miriam Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who voted against Corona’s conviction did not get any additional PDAF that year.
Sen. Francis Escudero confirmed receiving more than P50 million in additional allocation but he said he used it for legitimate projects.
Ejercito on contractors
Meanwhile, Sen. JV Ejercito urged the Blue Ribbon committee to expand its investigation into the pork barrel scam by summoning other big contractors who also got PDAF allocations.
Ejercito said it was during the administration of former President Gloria Arroyo or from 2004 to 2009 that a lot of PDAF were released.
“Many contractors with the DA [Department of Agriculture] and DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] made a killing from fake projects like Napoles’,” Ejercito said.
He named Evelyn Miranda, a contractor for the Department of Agriculture, and Joseph Tan, owner of Brostan Construction Corp.
Records from the DA showed that Miranda got P10 million for livelihood projects in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, before the May 13 midterm elections.
Tan, who ran for mayor in Santiago, Isabela, is allegedly building a mansion in his town.
WITH REPORTS FROM RITCHIE A. HORARIO AND RAADEE S. SAUSA