• Lawmaker’s business gets in way of her House work


    Rep. Erlinda Santiago of 1 Sagip party-list probably thinks she can mix politics and business.

    The lawmaker from Tarlac owns a publishing company that supplies millions worth of textbooks to the Department of Education (DepEd).

    Surprisingly, Rep. Santiago is also a member of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture that deals with DepEd rules, regulations and funding.

    Santiago’s Books on Wheels company is said to be one of the largest suppliers of books for public elementary and high schools.

    Former Bayan party-list Rep. Teddy Casino said there is a clear conflict of interests between Santiago’s work and her business.

    Casino suggested that Santiago either has to divest from her business or resign her membership in the House committee.

    “The problem with some of our lawmakers and government officials is that they do not have delicadeza (good taste) so they continue to do what they are used to do even if it is wrong, “the current Bayan spokesman said.

    The Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability is set to investigate the alleged textbook scam at DepEd when Congress resumes session in July, according to Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.

    Santiago’s Books on Wheels is one of those suppliers listed to have overpriced its deliveries of textbooks during the past administration and faces investigation by the House committee of which Santiago is a member.

    Incredibly, this writer found out that Santiago is also a member of the same committee that is going to probe the overpricing scam.

    Evardone said he will ask the good government committee to request Santiago to inhibit herself from the inquiry.

    One wonders, “Saan po kaya si congresswoman kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha [Where is she getting that thick face]?”

    DAR official denies article
    Former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Finance Director Maritess Panlilio denies receiving commissions and kickbacks from contractors.

    Panlilio, through a friend, said she never made money from DAR projects and never amassed wealth from the “pork barrel” of the lawmakers through Janet Lim-Napoles.

    She thought the article that came out in this column on Monday about an official of DAR who made her fortune from commissions from contractors was about her.

    Though I used the alias “Ma’am Tess” in that article, Miss Panlilio feels I was alluding to her.

    I never said that Maritess Panlilio, the director of DAR’s finance department, owns a beach resort in Pangasinan and a mansion in Manila, because it was alias “Ma’am Tess” who owns those pieces of property.

    Alias “Ma’am Tess” also received her kickbacks stuffed into boxes of sardines in her office during lunchbreaks. Her appointed spokesman said “Ma’am Tess” never received those boxes.

    Do you also belie the rumor that alias “Ma’am Tess” received millions in commissions from contractors like a certain Gigi M. and Manang Evie Miranda for “ghost” livelihood projects of the department?

    Finally, I did not write that this “Ma’am Tess” has a restaurant inside the DAR compound because everyone know that you own it.

    I rest my case.

    What about Evelyn Miranda?
    A reader sent me an email recently asking why Evelyn Miranda, a known contractor who reportedly also did business with lawmakers, is not included in the “pork barrel” investigation?

    Miranda is said to have also received millions in priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel for livelihood projects that DAR implemented during the Arroyo administration.

    She allegedly also cornered millions of DAR funds for livelihood of farmers through her contact, a certain “Ma’am Tess,” inside the same agency.

    As to the question why she is not included in the PDAF case, I guess only the Department of Justice has the explanation.

    Meanwhile, Miranda is just watching on the sidelines as the drama on the “pork barrel scam continues in the Senate.



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