Ex-House leader linked to ‘pork’ scandal

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Camarines Sur leaders pressed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to include ex-Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella in the list of lawmakers that the President wants the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) to prosecute in connection with the much-ballyhooed P10-billion in pork raked over the years by Janet Lim-Napoles.

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Citing a recent hearing of the House appropriations committee, the leaders said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala identified Fuentebella as one of six legislators who allocated a combined P83.2 million of their pork outlays at the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation (KPMI)—one of Napoles’s alleged bogus NGOs.

In a statement, the officials from Fuentebella’s Fourth district (or the Partido district) Fuentebella’s immediate prosecution would let the IAAGCC “drive home the message that P-Noy means business,” given Fuentebella’s stature in Congress—Speaker of the House in 2001 and deputy speaker for Luzon from 2007-2010—and “the magnitude of his pork-related shenanigans as documented by COA [Commission on Audit] in its special audit report.”

Partido leaders include Vice Mayor Alfredo Gonzaga of Goa, former Mayor Elmo Bombase of Tigaon and former-Councilor Francisco Tria Third of Sagnay.

Partido leaders said the Chief Executive need to efface both bogus NGOs and non-performing government corporations like the Partido Development Administration (PDA), in which local political kingpins like Fuentebella have used as conduits for illicit public-fund diversions.

“Fuentebella is certainly one big fish who the DOJ and interagency anti-graft council should hale to court in keeping with President Aquino’s order on the prosecution, and seizure of ill-gotten wealth, of those found guilty in the P10-billion pork scam,” Bombase said.

In a joint conference with Morales last Tuesday, de Lima said the IAAGCC aims to file air-tight cases against the erring lawmakers in two weeks’ time after it has established the “paper trail” and completed the documentary evidence, using as “reference” the 462-page COA report plus documents from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Gonzaga said the trail of COA-documented anomalies of livelihood projects funded by Fuen-tebella’s pork outlays, coursed through at least one of his favored NGOs “fully explains why CamSur’s Partido area remains one of the country’s poorest despite the creation of PDA and the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of pesos in development funds funneled to this district that has been under the political control of the Fuentebellas for over a century now.”

Gonzaga and Tria pointed out that the chief beneficiary-NGO of Fuentebella’s “pork” allocations—the Partido District Development Cooperative Inc. (PDDCI)—is headed by his driver Ariel Alde, and that PDDCI is not even registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

Gonzaga recalled that Fuentebella, his wife Evelyn and their sons Felix William and Arnulf Bryan are already facing plunder charges before the Office of Ombudsman for using P80 million in public funds on the sly for the construction of roads, multipurpose facilities and other public works in their private estates.

In a 15-page plunder complaint, the Fuentebellas were accused of juggling at least P28 million of taxpayers’ money to build infrastructure projects leading to their beach resort in Sagnay and P32 million more for other development works in their private properties in Barangays Abo and Gaao in Tigaon.

Felix William, who was PDA chairman since 2007, succeeded Fuentebella as representative for CamSur’s Third district in the last elections, while Evelyn and Arnulf Bryan were reelected mayors, respectively, of Sagnay and Tigaon.

Citing the COA special audit report, Gonzaga and Tria bared that Fuentebella got at least P197-million “pork” in 2007-2009, consisting of P120 million in VILP for “hard” projects, another P76.8 million in PDAF for “soft” projects and P1 million more from other sources.

A total of P18.6 million in PDAF funds were channeled over that period to the Fuentebella-endorsed PDDCI for projects supposed to have been coursed through the Technology Resource Center (TRC) for farmers’ livelihood training and entrepreneurial promotions and development program.

Tria pointed out that PDDCI is one of 82 private organizations that COA had questioned in its 2007-2009 report for receiving funds endorsed by lawmakers like Fuentebella, despite the absence of any law authorizing such fund disbursements to NGOs.

COA had questioned in its special report not only the legitimacy of this NGO but the legitimacy as well as of the suppliers of the materials for the farmers’ program and even the supposed program-beneficiaries.

Supposed to be operating in Barangay Abo in Tigaon, this NGO actually had no records with the Business Permit and Licensing Office of the municipal government there, and had failed to submit documents requested by the audit team, prompting COA to conclude in its report that, “hence, the very existence of this cooperative is questionable.”

Gonzaga cited that COA also found no proof of salaries and administrative expenses as this NGO had only submitted cash advance vouchers, and neither could the supposed payees be located by the audit team in the absence of their complete addresses.

Of the three companies supposed to have supplied the materials for the program, COA said Almost Construction Supply had no business permit and had issued Supply Invoices (SIs) without the Authority to Print (ATP) issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Synetware Computer Center had also issued receipts without the ATP and had told COA that the receipt for the submitted SIs was issued only in July 2010 and not in March 2008 and it was for another transaction involving a different amount.

The third supplier, Goa Dairy Cooperative, did not report the PDAF-funded transaction to the local government of Goa, having reported total sales of P90,000 in 2008 when its transactions with PDDCI alone for that same year already reached P300,000.

As to suppliers for other projects funded by Fuentebella’s “pork,” Tria said that COA mentioned in the same special audit report that RNM Feeds Veterinary Poultry Supply and Bicol JL Agri Corp. were supposed to have supplied complete fertilizer under different projects even if their respective fertilizer licenses expired in 2005 and 2007.

The National Food Authority and PDA were supposed to have supplied rice and palay seeds for other projects, respectively, said the COA, but there was no proof that such had been distributed to project-beneficiaries.

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