• Napoles still has P44 million in Agriculture department

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    AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso Alcala on Friday bared that businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the principal figure in the alleged Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, still has an uncollected amount of P44 million with the Department of Agriculture (DA), representing half of the more than P80-million worth of projects she cornered.

    Alcala, who was guest at the weekly Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt, said Napoles got P83.2-worth of agricultural projects through her nongovernment organization (NGO), the Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI).

    To date, the department has yet to release the remaining P44 million to the said NGO, Alcala added.

    KMFI is only one of the 20 NGOs allegedly formed by Napoles.

    The DA chief further revealed that the funds which were coursed through the Department of Agriculture by six congressmen whose names will be disclosed in two weeks time. If the manner by which the funds were released will be found questionable, Alcala said they will no longer release the remaining funds to KMFI.

    At the same time, Alcala announced that they had already created a fact-finding team to validate the 26 NGOs already listed in their department.

    “‘Di kami nagpapabaya [We are not remiss],” he stressed, adding that identifying the NGOs that should qualify for PDAF release is not their job. He said lawmakers should be the one to investigate the background of each NGO that approaches them.

    Alcala said that one of the six congressmen that coursed their PDAF to Napoles’ KMFI is Davao City’s 3rd District congressman Isidro Ungab.

    He, however, clarified that since July 1, 2010 up to August 11 of 2012, the department has avoided processing PDAF since the “fertilizer scam” broke out.

    “Iniiwas ko na ang department kumbaga ‘linis bahay’. We check the previous ones if there are indeed projects or program over the release PDAF through the DA. And we came out with safety nets to avoid similar scam,” Alacala explained.

    Alcala further said that after pre-qualifying NGOs or People’s Organizations (POs), validations are done if projects or programs are really down to the ground level and funds are not releases in lump sum but by tranches.

    “By tranches, say P300,000 for the first tranche. But it has to be liquidated first before we release the next tranche. It is validated sa baba [ground level]kung talagang may project, and the last ten percent of the amount will only be released if the project is already completed and liquidated,” Alcala said referring to safety nets they have placed to guard the PDAF releases.

    As to the latest PDAF scandal, Alcala said he had already relieved controversial assistant secretary, Ophelia Agawin, of her duties accrediting NGOs.

    Jing Villamente

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