At least P97 million of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was allocated to ghost agricultural kits, a government auditor testified before the Sandiganbayan on Friday.
Susan Garcia, the Commission on Audit (COA) auditor who led the Special Audit on PDAF usage from 2007 to 2009, made the revelation during a bail hearing of Janet Lim-Napoles, an Enrile co-accused in the P172-million plunder charge stemming from the PDAF or pork barrel scam.
Garcia told the court that Enrile’s pork barrel was channeled to the state-run National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), National Livelihood and Development Corp. (NLDC) and Technology and Resource Center (TRC), which “implemented” the projects through six Napoles-owned non-government organizations (NGOs) by funding various agricultural packages ranging from livelihood projects to farming materials and implements but their specifications were not reflected in disbursement vouchers or liquidation reports, among other documents.
There were 604 units of agricultural packages for a total of P24 million, 1,159 units of agricultural packages (P38 million), 289 agricultural packages (P9.6 million) and 791 agricultural units (P26 million).
The packages were supposed to benefit farmers from La Union, Marinduque, Compostela Valley and Palawan.
Garcia said contents of the packages were not specified in the disbursement vouchers, liquidation reports and official receipts.
“We validated it with the beneficiaries, and they denied receiving the agricultural supplies. The suppliers also denied providing the agricultural packages,” Garcia said during direct examination by prosecutor Annielyn Cabelis.
She added that the NGOs were predetermined by Enrile’s office as shown by the endorsement letters made by the senator and his then-chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes. Those letters directed Enrile’s deputy chief of staff Antonio Evangelista to represent Enrile in dealing with the Napoles-owned entities and monitor the implementation of the projects funded by Enrile’s PDAF.
Reyes is another Enrile co-accused in the plunder case.
Garcia said Nabcor, NLDC and the TRC failed to submit documents
to prove their competence to implement projects involving agricultural initiatives.
She added that Enrile’s PDAF was indicated in nine Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) with amounts of P20 million, P25 million, P50 million, P50 million, P55 million, P50 million, P60 million, P40 million and P25 million.
“Nabcor is supposed to be in charge of marketing and promotion of agribusinesses, while the NLDC is on microfinancing. Since the projects involved agricultural packages, the PDAF should have gone to the DA [Department of Agriculture;,” Garcia said.
The Sandiganbayan Third Division earlier rejected Enrile’s appeal to drop the plunder charge.
Enrile had argued that the court did not certify the evidence, affidavits or documents that would show that he received kickbacks from the pork barrel releases.
The court said Enrile cannot determine beforehand how cursory or exhaustive the judge’s examination of the records should be, considering that the judges are allowed to personally evaluate the report and supporting documents submitted by the prosecution indicated probable cause.
The Sandiganbayan also dismissed Enrile’s motion for the court to reconsider its decision denying his plea for bail.
The resolution was signed by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and concurred in by Associate Justices Samuel Martires and Alex Quiroz.