A COURT of Appeals Associate magistrate wants the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to check the authenticity of the funds allocation documents he allegedly signed when he was still a lawmaker.
Justice Danton Bueser, a former congressman from Laguna, denied allocating P9.6 million and P9.8 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the Philippine Environment and Economic Development Association (PEEDA) and the Aaron Foundation Philippines.
Based on the Commission on Audit’s (COA) report on congressional pork barrel releases from 2007 to 2009, Bueser endorsed the release of funds to PEEDA and Aaron.
Bueser believes his signatures were forged.
“I have not made any endorsements to these organizations, much less transacted business with these entities,” he said.
Aaron and PEEDA are among the 82 non-government organizations (NGOs) that received pork barrel funds, but are not in the list of groups that are linked to Janet Lim Napoles.
Bueser, who was appointed Court of Appeals justice in 2009, admitted he was a member of the Court’s Special 2nd Division which empowered the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to examine the 430 bank accounts of the Napoles family, their associates and corporations involved in the pork barrel scam.
He was also a member of the Court’s 4th Division which did not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) for Napoles when she questioned the validity of the arrest warrant issued against her by the Makati Regional Trial Court.
He said that he will inhibit from the case involving Napoles.
“While it is true that I am a member of the Court of Appeals Divisions on the cases involving Janet Lim Napoles, records would show that our rulings are not favorable to her. To cast any doubt and speculations which could affect the dignity of the court and my credibility as a magistrate, I am recusing myself from handling these cases,” he said.
DBM to blame
Meanwhile, a lawmaker said the pork barrel inquiry should also include the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) because it is the agency that releases lawmakers’ PDAF.
Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, secretary general of the United National Opposition, said the blame should not be heaped on the legislative department.
He said that if the DBM can withhold the pork barrel of lawmakers not perceived as “friends” of the administration, it should have been able to stop the release of PDAF to bogus organizations.
Tiangco said the implementing agencies under the executive branch should also be held liable because it is their duty to make sure that the NGOs endorsed by the legislators were legitimate.
“The controversy should not be blamed on legislators alone because the funds will not be released without the go-signal coming from the executive branch and the public should know this,” Tiangco said in a radio interview.
He explained that the DBM has the authority to suspend the release of PDAF or deny the PDAF release request of lawmakers if it wanted to, like in the case of former Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay.
From 2011 to 2013, the budget agency withheld the P70-million PDAF allocation of Magsaysay despite her repeated requests for its release.
Tiangco also questioned the DBM’s sincerity in following the “tuwid na daan” (straight path) campaign of the Aquino administration, noting that the agency continued to release funds to questionable government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).
Tiangco was referring to the revelation of COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan of PDAF releases to Philforest from 2011 to 2012.
PhilForest, he said, is in the list of questionable GOCCs in the COA report but the DBM did not stop the release of funds to the group.