Palace freezes benefits of GOCC execs in pork scam

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BESIDES booting them out of office, Malacañang said it would withhold the benefits of executives in government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCC) who were involved in anomalies like the P10-billion pork barrel scam until they are finally cleared.

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In a statement on Friday, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the decision was reached following President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s approval of a recommendation to abolish three graft-ridden GOCCs namely the Philippine Forest Corp. (PFC), ZNAC Rubber Estate (ZREC) and the National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor).

“The decision to abolish them was based on a study of their financial viability and relevance to national development plans conducted by the Governance Commission for GOCCs [GCG], which is the regulatory agency for such corporations,” Valte said.

Employees of the three corporations, which ate up P3.4 billion in government funds annually, are entitled to “separation pay in keeping with Civil Service rules,” she added.

“However, any separation packages will be withheld for those found to have committed graft or other corrupt practices,” Valte stressed.

The Senate previously said that the former officials of the three agencies may be held liable for funneling the legislators’ pork barrel funds to bogus non-government organizations linked to Janet Lim-Napoles.

Former Nabcor President Alan Javellana, during the last hearing on the pork barrel scam, testified that he met with Napoles at least twice.

Commission on Audit chairwoman Grace Pulido-Tan, also during the hearings, revealed that state auditors also found irregularities in Philforest covering the period 2011 to 2012.

Tan said the auditors realized a pattern was emerging from their audit of the Priority Development Assistance Fund and it was the same implementing agencies that were involved in the scam.

Tan described both the ZNREC and Nabcor as “pretty notorious.”

Valte explained that the abolition of the three GOCCs was approved because they “neither fulfilled the purposes for which they were created nor do they have a tangible social impact aside from being no longer financially viable.”

“From the start of his administration, President Aquino pursued a policy of promoting efficiency in government corporations to ensure that they serve as a means for fostering national development and not as a conduit or facilitator of selfish agendas and crimes. More GOCCs may be abolished as the GCG fulfills its mandate to rationalize the GOCCs of the country,” she added.

In a recent interview with The Manila Times, GCG Commissioner Rainier Butalid said the GCG intends to abolish around 50 more GOCCs for various reasons.

“We started with 158 and now it’s down to 120 and it is still decreasing,” Butalid said adding the most ideal number is about “80 or less.”

He said that many GOCCs are on the chopping board for being vehicles for corruption or “cash cows,” redundancy or duplication of functions, or sheer insignificance.

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