• Aquino allies excluded from COA report

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    The Commission on Audit’s Special Audit that points to massive corruption of pork barrel funds will go down in our history as a breakthrough in exposing how our Congress—in most nations a pillar of democracy and an engine for change—has become a gigantic printing press for legislators’ money.

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    Now I truly understand why it is so important for some people to spend tens and even hundreds of millions of money to get into Congress.

    The fact that senators asked that their pork barrel funds, officially known as Priority Development Assistance Funds, to be given to NGOs which mostly turned out to be sham entities, obviously meant that their arrangement with these groups, was for the bulk of this money, 70 percent reportedly, to be reverted back to them. “Kicked” back, really, which is the origin of that particular graft term.

    The complete list of legislators and these mostly fake NGOS, including the amounts given, is contained in Annex A of the COA report (posted in many internet site), pages 137 to 153. A staggering amount of P6 billion was given to these fake NGOs. Some P1.5 billion was “unliquidated”, that is, no receipts or any other documents were even submitted to prove that they were utilized.

    Cover of the “historic” COA report

    Cover of the “historic” COA report

    I found sad that even such an esteemed senator, the former University of the Philippines president Edgardo Angara, whose prestige has been so high that people voted his son to replace him in the Senate, would seem to have slept with these shadowy NGOs.

    According to the COA report, he gave P81 million out of his pork barrel to READ Foundation, P25 million to the Assembly of Gracious Samaritans Foundation, P19 million to Kagandahan ng Kapaligiran Foundation, Inc., and P14 million to Kalusugan ng Bata, Karunungan ng Bayan .

    Those NGOs received such substantial amounts of funds without any references to them even in the Internet. I may be wrong, though, and I’d be more than willing to be corrected by the Senator.

    What the heck is “Aaron Foundation Philippines, Inc.” that it enjoyed the largesse of such legislators as former Speaker Jose de Venecia who gave it P19 million of his pork barrel; Prospero and his brother Philip Pichay who gave it a staggering P210 million; Aurelio Umali, P24 million; Rolex Suplico , P25 million; and 22 other politicians—for a total of P524 million?

    The COA tried tracking down Aaron. It found that its address is “a vacant lot storing various equipment, and did not have a business permit.”

    Aaron Foundation got the third largest pork barrel funds from the politicians, totaling P525 million.

    The fake NGO that got the biggest, P585 million, was Social Development Program for Farmers Foundations, Inc., which, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported, was handled by the now infamous Janet Napoles. The second biggest recipient was Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation, with P526 million. For a purported NGO handling half a billion pesos, the COA found that its office at 99 Reliance Center Building in Pasig had a staff of three and one computer.

    Who the hell is Dr. Rodolfo A. Ignacio, Sr. after whom a foundation, to which 16 legislators gave P146 million of their pork barrel? The only reference I could find on the man is his obituary which described him as a former governor of Oriental Mindoro who died at 93 in 2004.

    The COA report shows that our esteemed legislators were into some kind of conspiracy, since they crowded into particular dubious NGOs. Thus 27 politicians had their pork barrel put into Aaron Foundation and 23 into Social Developemnt Program for Farmers. Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation was a clear favorite of the House, with 50 of its members allocating their pork barrel for this dubious entity.

    Congressman Matias Defensor, Jr. however should be given some award for sheer gall: Rather than bothering with other NGOs, he allocated P100 million of his pork barrel to the Matias Defensor, Sr. Foundation that he had set up, and of which he was still a stockholder.

    According to the COA data, the senators who had the biggest allocations to the dubious NGOs were Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, and Gregorio Honasan—all of whom are known not to be President Aquino’s willing allies.

    I wouldn’t doubt the COA data on these senators. However, how did President Aquino—a senator from 2007 until he was elected President in 2010, which covers the years 2002 to 2009 which were the subject of the COA’s investigation—use his pork barrel?

    For that matter, how did the senators now known to be Aquino loyalists and allies use theirs? Foremost among these are Aquino side-kick Mar Roxas, senator from 2004 to 2010, the Cayetano siblings Alan and Pia, Francis Escudero, Francisco Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes, Loren Legarda, Rodolfo G. Biazon, and even Jamby Madrigal.

    Were these legislators saints?

    Maybe yes. Like Senators Joker Arroyo and Panfilo Lacson, a few of these pro-Aquino senators reportedly didn’t touch their pork barrel allocations for certain years. I cannot confirm these though since the department of budget and management’s website contains data only for years starting 2009.

    However, there is a more likely reason why the COA report did not have details on these pro-Aquino senators’ use of their pork barrel. This is indicated in page 34 of the COA report:

    “Despite repeated requests, the DBM did not provide the (COA) Team with the schedule of releases from PDAF per legislator. Thus, total releases for each legislator out of PDAF cannot be established.”

    Because of this, the COA report involved only P12 billion or less than half of the P29 billion “soft” pork barrel uses , or mainly those given to NGOs. What has been disclosed in effect is only half of the corruption.

    Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, said to be Aquino’s political strategist, likely simply refused to provide the DBM with data on the pork barrel use of these senators allied with Mr. Aquino. I wonder if there was even a quid-pro-quo arrangement for Abad’s putting data on these senators’ pork barrel in his safe.

    There is another aspect to the COA report that is important to note.

    The COA-audited pork barrel covers only for the years 2007 to 2009. An unsung hero here is former COA chairman Rey Villar, whom Aquino forced out of office even if his term was until 2011.

    It was Villar who issued Office Order No. 2010-309, dated May 13, 2010, which directed the special audit on pork barrel funds by a team of about 20 officers headed by auditor Gloria Silverio. Quite ironically, Villar was included among the accused —and ordered arrested—in the preposterous case against President Arroyo involving the confidential funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. If I am not mistaken, since the case was deemed “non-bailable,” Villar has been in jail since late last year.

    COA chairman Grace Pulido-Tan should be gracious enough to give credit where credit is due. Just for his contribution to the country’s fight against graft, Aquino should order that Villar be excluded from the case.

    COA Chair Pulido-Tan claimed she was horrified at the scale of corruption over pork-barrel funds.

    If she really is, and if she is not beholden to the incumbent administration, she should be following her predecessor’s precedent and order a similar audit of pork-barrel funds from 2011 to 2013, or during Aquino’s term. She may faint on seeing this new report, given that pork barrel formal allocations averaged P25 billion during these years, about three times that for 2007-2009.

    tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
    www.rigobertotiglao@gmail.com and www.trigger.ph

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    12 Comments

    1. virginia guevara on

      I believe in bad “KARMA”, but it doesnt happen immediately. The Wagon is fully packed and each passenger will reach their turn including their family circle. I had witnessed these happened over and over from childhood till now.

    2. Amena Dawn Pinol on

      it really is heartwarming to read Mr. Tiglao discussing this Pork barrel scam. “what the heck is Aaron Foundation Inc? for info, it is ran by a woman who was closely associated with one of the key henchmen of GMA. his name is Butch. this lovely woman used to strut around out and in Congress with a gold-colored Nissan patrol bearing No. 8 plate. in sept 23, 2008 issue of another national daily, her Aaron Foundation was implicated in the Jocjoc Bolante Fertilizer scam. in 2006, she started to build in her home province a mansion complete with all amenities such as swimming pool. her neighbors in the province were astonished how come a poor girl coming from a poor family was able to construct such gigantic and palatial house. she later ran for congress. using sacks of sacks of money and thousands of rice bags she won a seat in the 15th congress. she lobbied herself, as she used to do before, to be a member of the LP. and she got what she wants- a queen of scam became a member of the PNoy LP. Being a congresswoman and LP member, she established added influence among PNoys trusted officials. with gall, she introduced a program “Jatropha Plantation” in the hinterland and IP populated barangays of Arakan in 2010-11. she rationalized her P20M Jatropha Project as a “livelihood project to uplift the living conditons of the IPs”. this former congress lobbyiist now a congresswoman takes pride of being partly IP by blood. But COA Manila were aghast to learn in2012 that P9million had been spent but not a single jatropha plant was ever planted in said unproductive site in Arakan, North Cotabato. the Mr. roque named as Aaron Foundation chairman is a faked person. now, i presume Mr. Tiglao knows who is the person behind theAaron Foundation.. she is the queen of scams and a Mr. Mar Roxas favorite LP member.

    3. felix servidad on

      Pustahan tayo kung sina Enrile, Honasan
      Jinggoy, Sotto, atbp ay kumampi Kay Noynoy sana d sila akusado ngayon sa
      pandarambong. Nagkamali lang si enrile
      Bakit kinatalo nya si Noynoy. Kayong mga
      inilukluk ng bayan kung nasaan kayo ngayon wag na kayong mag atubili pa mag magkampihan na lang kayo para walang mambubuking sainyo kalimutan
      nyo na young mga pangako nyo sa bayan
      na pag nahalal kayo ang bayan ang paglilingkuran nyo kampi kampi na lang
      kayo para alang mabuking wag na kayong
      maawa sa taong bayan cge magpakasasa
      kayo tutal wala na yata kayong
      Konsensya.’

    4. To all the corrupt government officials: Do you think your children and grandchildren will have a peaceful future with all your stolen assets? With the PDAF scandal in the open (wide open at that), good luck. Meanwhile, enjoy your “loots”.

    5. COA is truly ineffective. It finds annomalirs years after and not within the year when the fraud was committed. And look at it, COA would have not released its latest findings had it not for the recent exposure by by Benhur Luy. Pano pag walang whistle blower?! Tahimik pa rin si COA?!

    6. NoPIDAFinvolvement NGO on

      I am not sure about the title and it comes across as a blanket accusation to this administration. As cans of worms open up, I expect something like this. The beautiful side of it is that is forces this administration to clean its ranks…should be seen as a very good opportunity for P-noy and those who wants to take the path of good governance. Now, we all know why Lacson and Arroyo never wanted to touch their PDAF.

    7. three points:
      1.)i am beginning to think that pnoy and his cohorts have been fooling us all the while.otherwise,why are records of his pdaf and that of his cohorts not released to the coa team?what is he hiding from the public???
      2.)i now understand why the FOI bill will NEVER PROSPER……the pdaf fraud is the very reason.
      3.)why doesnt Pnoy initiate a COA audit on the pdaf expenditures in his term from 2010-2013????

    8. wilmer andrada on

      Massive corruption in our Government is so rampant that something has to done about it instead of another political circus.Let the National Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department together with all the ombudsmen which I hope would all be non political and honest give proper justice and sentences to whoev .In Illinois USA two governors and a congressman are currently in jail for corruption, but the amount are very minuscule compared to our Philippine Politicians.

    9. Bakit naman iuaudit yong member ng KKK masyado namang sinuswerte tayo pag nangyari yan. Sabi na kasalanan lahat ni gloria yan eh. Wala talagang pagaasa ang ating bansa. Ipupusta ko ang aking isang buliling walang sasabit na politiko sa scam na yan. Puro press release lang yan.

    10. Mario M. Aguas on

      I think the COA Chairperson should tender her resignation. It appears the allegations vs. Napoles, which include those years under the present COA Chairperson administration, are true. And if so, these happen during her term. And by command responsibility, since the infraction seems to be systemic, she should take responsibility and tender her resignation.

    11. Rightly so, Pulido-Tan must conduct a similar audit for the years 2010-2012, to the least so she can brag that she is a faithful follower of the “tuwid na daan” slogan of her appointing person, BS Aquino. If she will not do so, then it is clear as daylight that she is protecting this administration. Lackey to the appointing person we can start calling her.

      • And also, look for 2004-2006 where all this tongressmen and senatong were aroyo alllies then at lahat naging hunyango at naging aquino allies na. Magagaling talaga magpalit ng kulay at mga makapal na mukha. And then, now bakit ayaw at takot ang malacanang na abolish ang pork barrel, why,why mr. President at ang magaling mong budget secretary? Natatakot ba kayo na iwanan sa ere ng mga kapit tuko kapartido noon ni arroyo at ngayon ay nasa inyo. ANG KAKAPAL TALAGA NG MGA MUKHA NYO. Ikaw mr president, saan ka rin nakuha ng kapal ng mukha sa issue na ito.