Five Bicol lawmakers linked to pork barrel scam


LEGAZPI CITY: Five lawmakers from Bicol have been linked to the P1.7-billion pork allocations allegedly channeled to questionable non-government organizations through the controversial state-owned National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor) of the Department of Agriculture.

A total of 79 congressmen have been implicated in the latest revelations based on testimonies submitted to the Department of Justice by Nabcor vice president for finance Rhodora Mendoza and head of general services Victor Romano Cadal.

The testimonies said the funds were personally endorsed by the legislators to either then-secretary Arthur Yap or Nabcor President Alan Javellana to the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles controlled bogus organizations, the Bicol Mail reported.

The testimonies identified the Bicolano congressmen as Al Francis Bichara (Albay, Second District), Rizalina Seachon Lanete of Masbate (Third District), Antonio Kho of Masbate (Second District), Reno Lim (Albay Third District) and Renato Unico of Camarines Norte. Kho, Lim and Unico are no longer incumbents.

Bichara allegedly channeled P4.8 million and P8 million from his PDAF to two Napoles foundations. Also allegedly directing their respective PDAF to Napoles foundations are Llanete (P23.29 million and P15 million), Kho (P10 million), Lim (P5 million and P24.44 million) and Unico (P15 million).

Last week, Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson submitted to the Congress committee on good government and accountability chaired by Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez the names of lawmakers who were recipients of the extra P16.5 billion pork barrel funds released shortly before the 2010 elections. Of the P16.5 billion, a total of P1.121 billion reportedly went to Albay’s three lawmakers.

Singson’s report said Bichara was among the biggest recipients of the P16.5 billion at P623 million, Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay, First Dist) at P332 million, and Reno Lim at P165 million. Lagman and Lim are no longer incumbents.

Former DPWH-Bicol executive Romeo Esplana, who joined the Citizens Crime Watch Bicol chapter as chief investigator on government corruptions, said they are investigating the P1.121-billion pork barrel funds for Albay.

Esplana, who retired last year as public affairs chief and later as investigator, said he was not aware there was such a huge P1.121 billion pork funds released to the DPWH for Albay saying his initial investigation reveals that most engineers were not also aware about said extra releases.

The three lawmakers cannot be contacted for comments but according to Lagman infrastructure coordinator Rose Romano Bombales, all the P332 million extra pork allocation for Lagman during the 2010 election campaign period are duly accounted.


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