The fake special allotment release orders (Saro) received by the office of an incumbent Cagayan lawmaker came from a staff of the Committee on Appropriations, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. confirmed on Monday.
Belmonte told reporters that the Saro was sourced from a House employee, who is a good friend of Enrico Arao, chief of staff of Cagayan 2nd District Rep. Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso.
“Apparently the guy from Appropriations [committee]is a good friend of her COS [chief of staff]. Magkakilala sila so they talk to each other,” Belmonte said.
The Speaker said he does not know the name of the committee personnel.
Alfonso’s office reportedly submitted a SARO amounting to P161 million for farm-to-market road projects to the Department of Agriculture Region II office. It is part of the P879-million worth of fake Saros uncovered by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in October.
Belmonte said that Alfonso claimed that she had no knowledge of the issue until it came out in the news.
“The guy who actually brought the paper to the region was one of her staff . . . but they did not know that it was fake,” he added.
Alfonso’s staff already gave their written statements to the NBI last week.
Belmonte said that he would rather let the NBI finish its investigation first before imposing sanctions on the congressional staff involved.
“I prefer first of all the NBI get to the bottom of it. I certainly don’t like to preempt them and to appear like I’m protecting anybody that’s why it is better if they will be the one to investigate,” he told reporters.