The staff of the lawmaker who allegedly used a fake Special Allotment Release Order to secure a take from Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has filed a one month leave, it was learned Tuesday.
Rep. Lilia Macrohon-Nuño of Zamboanga City made the disclosure in light of the statement issued by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. that it was her staff named Emmanuel Raza who possessed a fake SARO and attempted to course such fake document to the office of Rep. Baby Aline Alfonso-Vargas of Cagayan.
Per Belmonte, the fake SARO was coursed to Alfonso’s office thru a staff from the House Appropriations panel named Jose Badong.
“I’m waiting for him [Raza]. He did not report to work today. He comes here regularly. I only knew him as Manny. I did not know he was Emmanuel. I did not even know his surname. This is my own lapse,” Nuño said in a phone interview.
Raza, per his letter to his boss Nuño, admitted that he is already under probe of the Anti-Graft Division of the National Bureau of Investigation and that he needs a month to address the issue and clear his name.
Raza serves as Nuño’s political affairs assistant and was one of the three staff members of former Rep. Erico Fabian whom she rehired for her tenure. Raza was a staff of Fabian for six years.
“I am mad because he stained my name. It’s a big blow [to my reputation]. I did not hire anyone new when I came here in Congress, just my driver. He is being investigated by the NBI so I will let the law take its course. I would not know if he is a fixer, but he cannot operate by himself,” Nuño added.
Nuño then maintained that she has nothing to do with the fake SAROs or any irregularity concerning PDAF.
“I have been in my post for barely five months and I am not involved in any dubious transaction. I don’t even know about the SARO since I didn’t follow up any project that has been pending during the time of Congressman Fabian because I am looking at the projects for 2014,” Nuño argued.
Belmonte has said that he would rather wait for the results of the probe done by National Bureau of Investigation before slapping sanctions on House employees who will be found liable of perpetuating fake SAROs.
Prior to the Supreme Court ruling last month which declared PDAF unconstitutional, each member of the House is entitled to P70 million worth of PDAF every year for the benefit of their respective constituents.
Of the P70 million, P40 million are earmarked for infrastructure buildings such as schools, roads, bridges, government buildings such as hospitals and health centers, among others. The remaining P30 million is for scholarship grants and medical assistance.
“When I assumed office, there were a lot of people who came to me, telling me they would be the one to handle my PDAF. I said no, definitely, because I will handle it myself,” she pointed out.
“If I cannot get project because I do not have PDAF, I can always go to the GAA and see if my district has projects in it, follow it up,” she added in closing, referring to the General Appropriations Act or the national budget. LLANESCA T. PANTI