Palace withholds benefits of GOCC execs’ in pork scam

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BESIDES having to be thrown out of job, the benefits intended for executives of government-owned and –controlled corporations (GOCC) who were involved in anomalies such as the P10 billion pork barrel scam would be withheld until their names have been cleared, Malacanang announced on Friday.

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In a statement, 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 Corporation (PFC), ZNAC Rubber Estate (ZREC) and the National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR).

“The decision to abolish them was based on a financial viability and relevance to national development plans study 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” rights that are “in keeping with Civil service rules.”

“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 (NGO) 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 chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan, also during the hearings, revealed that state auditors also have found irregularities in Philforest covering the period 2011 to 2012.

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

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

Meanwhile, Valte explained that the abolition of the three was approved because these agencies “neither fulfill the purposes for which they were created, nor had a tangible social impact, and that furthermore, they were no longer financially viable.”

“From the start of his administration, President Aquino has 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 they intend 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.”

The official explained that many GOCCs are on the chopping board due to being vehicles for corruption or “cash cows”, redundancy or duplication of functions, or sheer insignificance.

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