• Deluge of NGOs swamps govt examiners

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    An examiner at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) tackles a stack of papers from some 1,200 foundations and non-government organizations—the sheer bulk of paperwork can strain anyone on a lookout for the dubious and devious.

    Such lack of manpower and resources have been tagged as reasons why SEC examiners missed identifying bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that were used by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles as conduit of the priority development assistance fund of legislators.

    SEC Chair Teresita Herbosa, admitted to that deficiency before members of the Senate blue ribbon committee during the resumption of the inquiry on the alleged multi-billion pesos pork barrel controversy Tuesday.

    Herbosa said the SEC corporate and governance and finance department has only eight examiners tasked to look into at least 10,000 active non-stock, non-profit organizations (NSPO) including NGOs.

    She added that a total of 20,000 NSPO are registered at the commission but only 10,000 are currently active.

    She noted that to be able to effectively process the 10,000 active foundations in one year, SEC needs at least 54 examiners. Additional funding is needed to pay for new examiners.

    Apart from additional manpower, the commission also needs a dependable computer assisted review system capable of detecting inconsistencies or questionable entries on information provided by the registered corporations.

    “There are batches of fraud we see upon registration like fake TIN (taxpayer identification number) and sometimes they do not indicate the specific addresses. That’s why we need a computer program to detect those things,” the SEC chair said.

    Herbosa made it clear that even with the absence of a computerized review system the SEC still manages to detect “fraud” on applications submitted to their office.

    Senate blue ribbon committee chair Teofisto Guingona 3rd said that he will definitely push for additional funding for SEC next year to help the agency become more effective in its review process.

    “Definitely, that has to be looked into, we have learned that there are only eight people in charge of monitoring thousands of NGOs,” Guingona said.

    NGOs were reportedly used by Napoles, the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind as conduits for Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) funds of several lawmakers.

    Several lawmakers and officials of some government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) are now facing plunder and malvarsation charges before the Office of the Ombudsman filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in connection with the PDAF scam.

    The GOCCs like National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) and Znac Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC) under the Department of Agriculture (DA); the Philippine Forest Corporation; Technological Resource Center (TRC); and National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) were the implementing agencies assigned to carry out the PDAF projects of lawmakers.

    These GOCCs release the funding sourced from the lawmakers’ PDAF to the NGOs. The GOCCs are also responsible in determining the legitimacy of the NGOs.

    In the same hearing, Lawyer Cesar Villanueva, chairman of the Governance Commission of GOCCs (GCG) told investigators that they already recommended the official abolition of the GOCCs implicated in the scam following the review conducted last year.

    Villanueva said that even before the controversy broke out the GCG already submitted their recommendation for the abolition of ZREC and Nabcor after failing to prove that they are still profitable.

    The GCG head cited ZREC, which should be abolished because it subsists on commissions from PDAF.

    Villanueva also assured the Senate panel that with the efforts of GCG, chances of the GOCCs being used in the controversy like the pork barrel scam is nil.

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