The P10 billion pork barrel scam being investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) appears to be just loose change compared to the P115 billion questionable releases by the Department of Budget and Management between 2007 and 2009 which the Commission on Audit recently discovered.
COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan said that all of the money went to projects identified by lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives.
The COA report said that of the P115 billion released by the DBM, P101.6 billion supposedly went to infrastructure projects, P12 billion to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) projects of lawmakers, and P2.3 billion for financial assistance to local government units.
Pulido-Tan said that they unearthed the anomaly after discovering that most of the funds, particularly the pork barrel of several senators and congressmen, ended up with bogus non-government organizations (NGO), or expenses by the beneficiary agencies but which were unaccountable because there are no receipts submitted to them, and infrastructure projects awarded to fake contractors who supposedly did these projects but have not submitted any financial or completion report.
”Kung si Cardinal Tagle napaiyak sa P10 billion pork barrel scam, ako po ay talagang napahagulgul dito,” Tan said.
And why wouldn’t she? These wasted and pocketed funds were hard earned money of every Filipino that were deducted from their income or salaries as tax, yet, only a few, such as the lawmakers and Janet Lim-Napoles, personally benefited from it.
If this will not make us all angry, I do not know what will.
Is Pnoy pulling our leg?
The President was surely uninformed during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) when he announced that the country will no longer import rice from neighboring countries by 2014 because of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) rice sufficiency program.
Mr. Aquino might have been the laughing stock of the diplomats from South East Asia who attended the event since they are aware that part of his rhetoric was a lie.
Pnoy may not know it but the Philippines cannot stop the entry of commodities, particularly agricultural products, from members of the WTO.
Foremost in the agreement among its members, of which the Philippines is one, was the trade liberalization of each country. This simply means that we cannot and should not deny the entry of goods from a member of the WTO as much as other countries should also accept our commodities.
However, in 2005 the Philippines applied for “quantitative restriction” at the WTO particularly on rice importation citing our farmers appeal that it will kill the local rice industry.
The WTO approved the request and granted the Philippines until June 30, 2012 to limit the acceptance of imported rice into the country.
However, it’s been a year since the “QR” have expired, rice importers and traders are wondering why the government continues to impose restrictions on rice importation.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala admitted to this columnist last week that the country indeed is now violating a part of the WTO agreement.
Alcala said that so far, no member country of the WTO has complained against us, therefore the Philippines will continue to restrict the volume of rice entering our country from abroad.
On the question whether we can totally stop the entry of rice from other countries by next year, the Agriculture chief said we have no choice but to let it in, which is therefore in contrast to Pnoy’s vow last SONA of zero rice import by 2014.
I feel sorry for Mr. Aquino since he sounded stupid on the rice issue because he was probably misinformed by his advisers on the WTO agreement.
“Niloloko lang yata kayo ng mga tao ninyo, Mr. President!