House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. clarified on Tuesday night that the fake special allotment release order (Saro) came from an office of another lawmaker, not from the Appropriations Committee.
In a statement, Belmonte clarified that the fake Saro came from the office of Zamboanga City Rep. Lilia Nuño that was forwarded to the office of Cagayan 2nd District Rep. Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso.
“Upon further inquiry, we have found out that the photocopy of the fake [Saro] came from the staff of Congresswoman Lilia Nuño of Zamboanga City, Emmanuel Raza, who requested Appropriations Committee staff Jose Badong if he knew someone from the Office of Congresswoman Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso, because he (Raza) has a copy of the SARO for Region 2,” he said.
“Badong, who knew Bong Pelonio, Vargas-Alfonso’s Chief of Staff, gave the alleged SARO to Mr. Pelonio.”
The speaker said that the House panel has no hand nor knowledge on the incident.
“The Committee on Appropriations has no knowledge or hand in the issuance of said fake Saro. The Appropriations Committee does not issue or receive any Saro. Saro’s are sent directly by DBM [Department of Budget and Management] to the implementing agencies,” Belmonte added.
The Times earlier reported that the Saro came from the said committee as per interview with the speaker on Monday afternoon.
The fake Saro amounting to P161 million received by Alfonso’s office would have been used for the implementation of farm-to-market roads. It was part of the P879-million fake Saros-scheme discovered in October.
Alfonso earlier denied the allegations, saying that she did not know about the incident until it was reported in the news last week.
The lawmaker’s staff already gave their statement to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last week.
Belmonte welcomes the investigation pursued by the NBI on the matter.
“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,” Belmonte said in an earlier interview.
Meanwhile, Abakada Party-list Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz filed House Resolution No. 564 on Wednesday urging the lower chamber to conduct an inquiry on “missing, fake, and unregistered” Saro’s.
“But the most telling observation pertained to the integrity and efficiency of DBM’s operations with the proliferation of missing, unaccounted for, double numbering and skipping of control numbers for 3,158 Saro’s until December 31, 2011,” he said in a statement. JHOANNA BALLARAN