DBM cover-up in COA ‘s pork barrel report

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Imagine if the school principal clamps down on cheating by this class of 24 students, which had become an open secret on campus.

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An investigator is called and asks for the exam papers for him to pin down the cheating. The teacher submits only the documents for this particular gang of four he doesn’t like, and simply ignores the investigator’s demand to provide him with the exam papers of the others.

True enough, the papers show the gang of four cheating, and there’s a mob raised to go against them. Everyone forgets that the rest of the 21 most probably were cheaters too. The teacher just didn’t provide the investigator with their papers.

Source: COA, Special Audits Office, Report No. 2012-03

Source: COA, Special Audits Office, Report No. 2012-03

That’s exactly what the Commission on Audit’s controversial report on legislators’ pork barrel involves. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) refused to provide the auditors the documents involving certain legislators, most likely allies and supporters of President Aquino.

Let’s be clear what the COA’s audit of the pork-barrel funds, officially called the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), is.

It is a special audit on the use of the PDAF by both houses of Congress for the years 2007 up to 2009. The audit was undertaken from June 15, 2010 to September 13, 2012 during which period President Aquino’s ideologue Florencio Abad headed the budget and management department, which kept the records on the disbursement so the pork barrel funds.

The COA report itself complained about a big obstacle to its special audit:

“The DBM could not provide the team, despite repeated requests, with complete schedule of releases per legislator from PDAF for soft projects . . .” (page 5).

And how much of the total PDAF releases of P29 billion during the period was the COA able to get data and documents on?

It received documents from DBM tracking how the pork-barrel funds were actually reimbursed covering only P8.4 billion, or 29 percent of the PDAF released. As the COA report’s paragraph “e” on page 1 put it: “Out of the total releases gathered by the Team, P8.374 Billion . . . (See Table 7) out of PDAF were covered in the Audit.”

So how was the remaining P21 billion, or 71 percent of the total pork barrel used?

We don’t have an idea. As the COA put it, the DBM simply did not provide data on these “despite repeated requests.” To call a spade a spade, there was cover-up by the DBM on certain legislators’ pork-barrel use.

A recent report by the Philippine Star is worrying, that allegedly pork-barrel scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles had destroyed her documents in January that could have linked politicians to her racket. Could a similar, parallel operation have been done in the DBM, so records on the use of PDAF disbursements for certain senators especially would forever be lost?

It is just too coincidental that the senators whose pork barrel were audited by the COA, which found gross misuse and even fund malversation, were nearly all those in the opposition or those who are presidential or vice presidential timber for 2016: Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Ramon Revilla and Lito Lapid.

It’s a brilliant move by Aquino’s operators. How can Enrile and company defend themselves by just claiming, “Why only us?”.

Other than Senator Edgardo Angara, the COA audit did not have any data (or very little data) on the following senators of that period to evaluate whether or not they properly used their PDAF: Mar Roxas, Rodolfo Biazon, Alan Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda and Antonio Trillianes.

The most glaring omission of course involves the pork-barrel data on Mr. Aquino, who was a senator during that period. The report did not have any amount listed for his PDAF. Aquino though has never claimed that he didn’t touch his pork barrel allocations. Only two senators are known to have refused any PDAF money: Joker Arroyo and Panfilo Lacson.

The COA also reported: “The Audit covered releases by the DBM Central Office and Regional Offices Nos. III, V, XI and National Capital Region and utilization of funds and implementation of projects during CYs 2007 to 2009.” It also listed the three implementing agencies it investigated, which consisted of three departments, four state firms, nine cities and municipalities, and four provincial governments.

How did the COA choose these implementing agencies which it audited?

At random? Or was it tipped that pork-barrel misuse by Enrile’s gang was rampant in these state entities? Why did it choose for instance to investigate the National Agribusiness Corp. and Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College Rubber Estate Corp., entities few people—I would think even COA officials—even knew existed?

Or did the DBM and Aquino’s strategists already undertake their own probe and found that these entities were the favorite venues of Enrile and company to siphon off into their pockets pork barrel funds?

Consider the regions the COA decided to investigate: III (Central Luzon), V (Bicol). XI (Davao) and the National Capital Region. Why weren’t the bailiwick region of Liberal Party leaders Franklin Drilon and Mar Roxas—which is Region VI (Western Visayas)—included in the COA’s probe?

It is the fact that the COA report was based on documents which DBM head Abad chose which destroys its credibility. This wouldn’t be a problem if the audit were entirely a diagnostic tool for the COA to tighten up its auditors’ protocols and procedures. But it just hasn’t been so.

The COA audit did expose how legislators have been stealing taxpayers’ money, consequently igniting people’s outrage calling for its total abolition. That’s certainly a laudable accomplishment.

But the COA report obviously has also become a political tool for destroying—validly or not—the prestige of the opposition’s leaders, seriously weakening them in their bid to take over power in 2016. That’s not how a nation should build its institutions.

That the COA has become partisan, rather than sticking to its constitutional mandate as an independent body, was obvious in last week’s Senate hearing. COA chair Grace Pulido-Tan nearly gleefully testified that “based on the COA’s report,” senators Enrile, Honasan, Revilla and Lapid allocated pork-barrel amounts to dubious “eight NGOs linked to Janet Lim-Napoles,” widely believed now to have headed a scam for lawmakers to pocket the PDAF funds.

But the COA report had no reference at all to a “Janet Lim-Napoles.” What the COA report had data on was on Benhur Luy, whom its auditors found was president in one NGO and director in another both of which appeared ghost entities but which received substantial pork barrel fund.

Yes, Luy had been linked to Napoles, that he was her staff who accused her of running the pork barrel racket. But that is according to the newspapers which broke the mammoth racket, which based its reportage on claims of Luy and other alleged whistle-blowers. So far there isn’t any other confirmation of those allegations.

Luy’s claim may likely prove accurate, but his allegations regarding Lim aren’t in the COA report. Would you consider professional an auditor who refers to a newspaper report as a basis for her audit of your company?

By testifying in the Senate that the COA report found that several senators were linked to “Janet Lim-Napoles,” Tan was technically lying, as Napoles’ name didn’t appear anywhere in the report.

She has become a partisan in this controversy, and sadly has transformed the COA—which like the Supreme Court is supposed to be above the fray—into a political weapon. It has become another institution politicized and damaged by this administration.

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

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25 Comments

  1. I suggest to investigate the lifestyle and assets of high ranking officials of agencies involved in PDAF scam.

  2. come on now people. isn’t it obvious that guilty parties are trying to destroy the credibility of COA.. they will do anything to save themselves.. its about time na mapansin ang annual reports ng COA.. try reading it in their website.. it has been there all the time.

  3. Very articulate narration of facts re PB scam. Commentaries and observations from readers although at times abrasive, are likewise eloquent. The big question is, what makes us different from JLN and those Senators, Congressmen and occupants in Malacanang, given the same opportunities — for time immemorial — to steal with impunity from government treasury. No wonder we’re called islands of thieves. Unless the young generation breaks these cycles of corruption in our government, poverty and horrible crimes will prevail.

  4. why on earth now, the COA audit should have been made every year, with each yearly accounting of what’s required from the President to the lowest govt. agencies.

  5. I don’t understand how people are happy with simply having the PDAF repealed. The system is not flawed. It was put in place for special projects and charitable donations benefitting barangays and the poor. What is flawed is the GROSS misuse and abuse by our lawmakers. What they did was ILLEGAL and constitutes an act of TREASON. They used public money to fatten their wallets while the gard working Filipino’s gained nothing. This has been happening for too long to just get rid of the pork barrell and pretend everything is ok. They need to be accountable to the people, ALL of these lawmakers need to come forward. Nevermind pRtisan politics, there is blood on all their hands. Please do not call for the end of the pork barrell but call for justice against those who have raped our country of BILLIONS of our hard earned pesos.

  6. Felix Servidad on

    Ay naku! Pana panahon Lang yan, panahon ni Pnoy ngayon kaya magtiis kayong mga oposisyon. pag kayo naman ang nasa pwesto saka naman kayo gumanti di ba ganyan ang sistema sa ating bansa. Ang kawawa ay si Juan dela Cruz na umaasa sa mga iniluklok nya na balang araw ay pag sisilbihan nila ang bayan natin ayon sa kanilang matatamis na pangako habang sila ay na nganampanya pa para sa kanilang pwesto na pinaka aasam asam. Para tayong mga babae na sinuyo at pinangakuan ng kung ano ano at pagkatapos na makuha nila ang pinakamatamis nating. Oo at pagsamantalahan ay basta na Lang nila tayo iniwan sa eri. Kaya mas mabuti pa siguro ipag dasal na Lang natin sila sa Diyos na tubuan sila ng konsensiya dahil sa Diyos lahat ay posible.
    Pasensya na po ang tamaan.

  7. Remember, people still believe in them isn’t it? the Aquinos and co. cannot be faulted. already, SWS and PulseAsia have prepared their recycled surveys awaiting for a right time for the faithful consumption.

  8. Oh, we shall go to them Bobby! But we will just get after the four first…WHY THEM? because it is Filipino nature…it is human nature, the biggest, baddest, and dirtiest gets attention first.,By the way, why the fuss? are you scared Bobby? are you scared that all roads lead to GMA??? nervous much?? your not connected to that ? aren’t yo besides, COA is not a political weapon Bobby, the reports it has is and will still be truth till kingdom come…Truth which shows that your (previous?) master and her court of thieves and robbers will be legally exposed, in black and white, with specific numbers, with evidence, with facts, that they have abused, plundered, and mowed their treasonous ways for the last 9 years…COA reports may be “what stands between you and the pitchforks”, or the dos-por-dos, or the tubo, or the sumpak, or the balisong, or the bitay…This country has been violated long enough and the minute that this data connects the politicians with money, all will demand blood.

  9. the truth will come out, if not in this term then the next. I wouldn’t be surprised if BSA the Turd will also be seen one day doing the wheelchair to court thing.

  10. looks like Enrile is in the hottest seat in the Philippines at the moment. All new reports have his name..

  11. I wouldn’t take the COA into heart with whatever it reports. At this point, everything is misleading. I think it’s best to just remove the PDAF completely. That’s the main source no matter what…

  12. Chemicallyunstablez on

    I can’t believe we have a person like Napoles that would do something like this with the people’s hard-earned cash. Not sure if this what I can call pure evil, or pure greed. It’s sad that we are in this position now..

  13. Darewin Ocampo on

    Whitewash in the making. Kaya pala malakas loob ni Pnoy na ipasiyasat paggamit nya ng Pork Barrel e ayaw ilabas ng DBM data ng PDAF use nya as congressman and senator.

  14. It seems corruption goes deeper than what we are led to believe. If indeed the COA reports on corruption by Pork is focused on the enemies of Mr. Aquino, but does not include the usual Kaibigan, Kabarilan, Kaklase, than COA is remiss in its duties and has a lot to answer for. Do not forget a famous old saying, Mayroon bang humawak sa palayok na hindi na-ulingan? When you cook using a clay pot over fire fed by charcoal or fire, it is covered in soot. So roughly translated, Can anyone hold a clay pot with bare hands and not get black?

    This Administration, has a lot to answer for.

  15. Aasa pa ba tayo dito sa situation na ito? Kapag ang kriminal ay tumakas, ibig sabihin guilty! Ganon din dito yan, kapag tinago ang documents or worst, winala, may problema sa mga kumag na ito. At kung lumabas naman, na-doctor na! Walang lusot yan sa mga mata ng taumbayan….tanga lang ang maniniwala sa mga kawatan na ito na makakapal ang mga mukha! Garapal to the max at di na tinatablan!

  16. Based on your article, either DBM is doing lots of calculations and moving/removing of the commas and periods in their report before they release it! It is so much fun to see that finally they are doing their work, working their brains out how to get to the desired amount. That is were taxpayer’s money goes, to our government employees who only get busy twice in their lifetime, once – breaking their brains on how to steal the money and second – breaking their brains to make their mathematics work. Hallelujah!!

  17. I think this so-called audit report, so selective as it is, in fact this whole pork barrel brouhaha, is but a ploy of this vindictive and paranoid administration in its continuing effort to demonize its perceived enemies, particularly the personalities of the past regime and those preparing to contest the presidency in 2016. Else why limit the audit to the period 2007-2009? What about from 2010 to the present? And are all the yellow politicians, but specially those who conveniently deserted the past administration to join the incumbent one, all spotlessly clean saints with not a smudge of lard coming out of this sordid pork barrel mess?

  18. Right before our eyes, the whitewashing of the unprecedented plunder of the country is being undertaken.

  19. ANDRES LAPULAPU on

    The basis of COA report may come from a directive or sort of, probably from executive office. I am interested to know the specific directive does specify only a particular lawmaker or all of them. This directive will further show us the real picture of the issue. Thank you for this article.

  20. Impeach Chairman Pulido-Tan for betrayal of trust. She has clearly shown her subservience to the President , and willingness to be do as she is told by him. She has virtually surrendered the independence and objectivity of the Constitutional body she heads. This is obvious from the incomplete and partial Audit report she has made public which tended, or was designed, to destroy the reputation and honor of those selectively mentioned( mainly non-allies of the President) in the Report, and by her demeanor and self -serving statement during the Senate investigation. By allowing her department to be used for political persecution and submitting herself to the whims and caprices of the President , she has failed the people’s trust and has shamelessly violated the Constitution which guarantees the independence of Constitutional bodies. This is certainly a more impeachable offense than CJ Corona’s filing of a procedurally defective SALN.

  21. This Queen Napoles Pork Barrel issue is a stage-play involving King PNoy, Abad, Roxas, Purisima and a few other KKK’s and allies. Basing on the details explained by Mr Tiglao, Correctly so, there are just too many points of collusion between the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice-President, the Office of the DBM, the Office of the Finance Secretary and the Office of COA. Any elementary and high school student can make smart conclusions of the effort of selective exposure of wrong doing. It is surprising why they apparently did not include de Lima in this moro-moro considering she is a very reliable participant.

  22. Ang kaso nito ay halos kapareho ng Executive Order No. 1 ni Noynoy creating the Truth Commision to be headed by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. to investigate corruption allegation against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. However, the Supreme Court declared it unsconstitutional saying, “it violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution for focusing on the administration of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo.