The Department of Agrarian Reform is currently collaborating with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on instituting collection cases against questionable non-government organizations (NGOs) in relation to fund releases in late 2010 to 2011.
DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Parungao said Friday that they have collated the documents and completed the required staff work needed for the filing of collection complaints against five of these NGOs, and have submitted the papers for the cases against three of the NGOs to the OSG two weeks ago for its evaluation and appropriate action. He said they will be transmitting the papers against two more NGOs to the OSG Friday (25 October), while four more will be transmitted next week.
He added they will be sending more documents in the next two weeks, as they are still doing case build up for the collection complaints on the others.
“The filing of these collection cases is in conformity with the recommendation of the COA”, Parungao said. “Right now, not all documents are available, although certified true copies of a majority of the checks are already in our possession.”
Parungao did not preclude the option of filing of criminal cases against members of these NGOs. He added that once all case build ups have been completed, they will also forward the same to the government investigating agencies concerned, for further investigation.
He reiterated that DAR will continue its internal investigation which started some time July last year on the fund releases to other NGOs.
He said that last July 2012, Undersecretary Pacturan of the DAR’s Support Services Office began investigating NGOs which were allegedly involved in questionable fund releases.
Parungao also recalled that in the initial investigation of the said office, no projects were implemented, which is why letters were sent on July and November last year to these NGOs, reminding them of their obligation to submit reports and make an accounting of the funds.
He said that the Department is committed to get to the bottom of this issue and will not hesitate to take other actions once culpability is clearly established.
Parungao clarified that according to prevailing guidelines at that time, undersecretaries may sign contracts and fund releases up to a certain level.
Parungao also said that the Department has instituted more stringent measures on fund releases to NGOs and other private entities. These include, among others, having private entities such as NGOs, strictly undergo the process of competitive bidding if the entity to be funded will provide goods or services, or through a Needs Assessment and Design Assessment (NADA) procedure if the NGO is the beneficiary of funds or of support services.
Parungao also relayed that in December 2011, several NGOs were again endorsed to facilitate PBD programs to the amount of P475 milion. DAR insisted on the conduct of competitive bidding in selecting service providers, including NGOs. Subsequently, these funds were withdrawn from the Department.
In fact, Parungao said that it is unfortunate that funds were allocated to NGOs that were merely endorsed to DAR. He stressed that the reforms that they were starting to put in place early on precisely stipulated that all funds released to entities are subject to bidding.
He made an assurance that, save those under investigation now, no other fund disbursements were made without having undergone the said instituted process. PNA