THREE senators released P38 million of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to a questionable non-governmental organization (NGO) last year, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).
A COA report said Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Loren Legarda channeled part of their “pork” to the People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation, Inc. through a town in Bataan province. The money was supposedly used to purchase agricultural products but the documentary requirements it submitted for liquidation were not sufficient.
People’s Organization was one of the NGOs identified by COA Chairman Grace Pulido Tan to have links with Janet Lim Napoles, the key figure in the pork barrel controversy.
In its report on the municipality of Dinalupihan, Bataan, the COA said that People’s Organization, received a total of P38 million from the three senators as shown in the various special allotment release orders (SARO) that covers the implementation of the livelihood projects.
It said Estrada released P5 million on January 6, 2012, another P10 million on March 30, 2012 and P8 million on May 15, 2012 or a total of P23 million.
Enrile released P10 million on March 29, 2012, while Legarda released P5 million on June 25, 2012.
People’s Organization was to have distributed 1,744 packages of agrarian implements, high value yield enhancements, and farm inputs and implements, ranging from P20,500 to P36,450 per package.
But COA said Dinalupihan failed to submit the supporting documents for the release, implementation and liquidation of funds.
It said People’s Organization submitted a memorandum of agreement, work and financial plan, the SAROs, the letters from the offices of the three senators designating People’s Organization as the NGO project implementer, a municipal council resolution and a list of recipients.
The three letters from the senators assigning People’s Organization as their recipient were signed by the lawmakers’ chiefs of staff. The group did not submit a final utilization or liquidation report and warranty for the purchase of the farm supplies.
“Except for the P5 million received from Senator Legarda, no pictures of the actual distribution were attached,” COA said.
The commission said Dinalupihan also failed to submit the accreditation of People’s Organization as the grantee agency, the financial and legal requirement of the NGO and a certification that group had cleared any previous cash advance released to it.
COA added that no supplemental budget was approved for the use of the subsidy. The fund was immediately transferred to People’s Organization “per letter of the Office of the Senate and a Sanggunian [council]resolution.”
COA demanded that municipality officials submit additional documents from People’s Organization for the liquidation “but as of this date, no documents were submitted to the [town officials].”
“As a result of the above deficiencies, the fund transferred to People’s Organization cannot be fully substantiated,” the commission said.
According to COA’s special audit on the pork barrel, People’s Organization had previous transactions with other lawmakers amounting P50.3 million.
From 2007 to 2009, the group got P24.25 million from Enrile through the National Agribusiness Corp.
Members of the House of Representatives were also generous to the group. Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas 4th endorsed P2.7 million, Victor Francisco Ortega, P2.7 million, Conrado Estrella 3rd, P4.5 million, Robert Raymund Estrella P4.5 million, Samuel Dangwa, P7.2 million, and Erwin Chiongbian, P4.5 million for an aggregate amount of P26.1 million.
The money was released through the Technology Resource Center.
People’s Organization was not included in the list of registered NGOs published in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website, COA said. But it had business permits to operate from 2007 to 2009.
The group listed its office address as Block 23, Lot 59, Phase 2, EP Housing Village in Taguig City. When the COA audit team visited the address on February 14, 2011, the unit, which is located within the residential area, was closed. Neighbors told COA the unit was for rent.
The pork releases last year is separate from the special audit conducted by COA earlier. That audit covered transactions from 2007 to 2009.
Appearing at the Senate last week, Tan said that eight organizations linked to Napoles got more than P1 billion from Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Gregorio Honasan, Enrile and Estrada. The four senators did not attend the investigation held by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.