• Ax should fall on DBM over fake SAROs

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    The ax should fall on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) over the apparent proliferation of fake Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) documents which are used as a tool to secure fund releases from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), opposition lawmakers said Thursday.

    Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list and Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list made the stance in light of the National Bureau of Investigation’s probe on four Congressional staff members who allegedly possessed 12 fake SAROs namely: Emmanuel Raza (Office of Rep. Lilia Nuño of Zamboanga City), Mary Anne Castillo (Office of Rep. Teodorico Haresco of Aklan) and two others from the Office of Rep. Baby Alfonso-Vargas.

    The SARO—solely released by the DBM to the implementing agencies of government projects, including those funded by PDAF—is a document that authorizes the implementing agencies to bid out the said projects. The SARO would then need to be obligated by the DBM before it issues the Notice of Cash Allocation—a document that authorizes the release the fund for the projects.

    “I would say that is a syndicate because the system is complicated, if not sophisticated. You have to know someone from the DBM, from the implementing government agencies. To facilitate such scheme, there must be a conspiracy between various offices and first persons,” Colmenares, the House Deputy Minority Leader, said in an interview.

    Tinio then cited that the DBM has long been remiss in disbursing SAROs, considering that there are 3,158 SAROs which are unaccounted for based on a 2011 Commission on Audit report.

    “In such a situation, you can imagine that it would be easy to fake these SAROs if the DBM itself cannot keep track of SAROs that it issues. The ultimate responsibility is with the DBM, particularly the Secretary,” Tinio argued, referring to DBM Secretary Florencio Abad.

    “The fact that 3,158 SAROs are floating around and unaccounted for is not acceptable. These are taxpayers’ money,” Tinio added.

    In a separate statement, Haresco also claimed that his office wasn’t aware that the SARO delivered to his office and received by his consultant Castillo was fake.

    Haresco argued that SARO, which provides P10 million funding for a Farm-to-Market improvement/rehabilitation project in Balete, Aklan, appeared authentic since it had a serial number, bar code, reference number and a signature of a DBM official in initials.

    Haresco’s office then took the SARO to the Department of Agriculture so that the project can be bidded out by the District Engineering Office. Haresco’s office was later informed by the NBI last November 28 to raise the alarm that the SARO was fake.

    “We have no inkling at the time that the SARO was fake. When we were informed that the SARO was fake, we entertained NBI’s queries. We cooperated with the NBI to shed light on this issue,” Haresco said.

    Congresswoman Alfonso, for her part, underscored that she wasn’t aware that the SARO coursed to her office by Raza was fake.

    Alfonso cited that the SARO for four projects in her district amounting to P30.6 million was handed to her Chief-of-Staff Abraham Pelonio by House Appropriations panel’s Badong.

    Her staff Pelonio then sent the document via e-mail to her local staff Amador Enrico Arao who submitted the said SARO to the Regional Office of the Department of Agriculture.

    “If the said SARO was fake, as claimed by the DBM, there was no damage incurred by the government because no money has been expended to implement the same. Such declaration only meant that we in Region 2 would have to wait further if the identified projects requested by our constituents will ever be implemented within the year 2013 or in the coming years,” Alfonso added in a separate statement.Congresswoman Alfonso, for her part, underscored that she wasn’t aware that the SARO coursed to her office by Raza was fake.

    Alfonso cited that the SARO for four projects in her district amounting to P30.6 million was handed to her Chief-of-Staff Abraham Pelonio by House Appropriations panel’s Badong.

    Her staff Pelonio then sent the document via e-mail to her local staff Amador Enrico Arao who submitted the said SARO to the Regional Office of the Department of Agriculture.

    “If the said SARO was fake, as claimed by the DBM, there was no damage incurred by the government because no money has been expended to implement the same. Such declaration only meant that we in Region 2 would have to wait further if the identified projects requested by our constituents will ever be implemented within the year 2013 or in the coming years,” Alfonso added in a separate statement. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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    2 Comments

    1. Money not sweat brow hard earn by any individuals especially politician is easy target to divert, funneled, kickback, because no proper transparency, one rulings and stricter and stiff measures to release SARO, the Lawmaker nuts must signed directly into the document to avoid confusion and whitewash once, embezzled and Government launch investigation to manhunt facilitator or author. These are public money, not earn money that toying upon by corrupt, crook politician.