UNA official sees nothing wrong in COA report

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AN Official of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Monday expressed belief that the special audit report on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) recently released by the Commission on Audit (COA) has nothing to do with politics and was conducted with regularity, unlike the review being conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

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Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA secretary general, however said that aside from the 2007-2009 audit report, the state auditor should also release the 2010-2012 report in order to find out if Janet Lim-Napoles, the supposed architect of the “pork barrel” scam, managed to continue her racket during the present administration.

Tiangco said the public has the right to know if the “pork barrel” scam still exists today or if the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, was successful in putting a stop to the scheme as part of the “tuwid na daan” (straight path) campaign.

“I believe that COA report was conducted in a responsible manner and I congratulate the agency for being responsible enough in completing its investigation before releasing it to the public unlike the investigation of the DOJ,” the UNA official said in an interview.

Tiangco has criticized the justice department for releasing partial information about the case while it is still conducting an investigation.

He added that no less than Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is giving out details of the ongoing investigation and even clearing the names of some lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Tiangco also said that investigators should not only focus on the lawmakers being implicated in the controversy. In fact, they should be going after officials and personnel of the government agencies that implemented the PDAF funded projects.

He maintained that lawmakers’ involvement is just limited to the identification and endorsement of the project to be funded by their PDAF and the rest is the responsibility of the implementing agency.

Tiangco explained that the implementing agencies are the ones that accredit non-governmental organizations and responsible in making sure that the deliveries or projects are completed before releasing payment.

“There will be no scam if there are no payments made on a project that doesn’t exist, or ghost deliveries. So we have to find out the individuals who approved release of funds and who pressure them to release it,” he said.

He said there is a need to bring the issue on the proper perspective and that is by investigating the individuals that signed the certification that the projects was implemented as well as those who signed the payment vouchers because without their approval there will be no scam.

Senate five
The special audit report of COA showed that Napoles is not the only operator of the PDAF scam, which implicated at least 15 senators and several congressmen including allies of the President.

A newspaper that reported the so called P10-billion pork barrel only named five senators, namely Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., who tops the list of lawmakers that allotted the biggest amount of PDAF to a bogus NGO, followed by Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Gregorio Honasan.

The five senators already said that they are open to any investigation in order to clear their names.

They also denied having personal knowledge of transacting with Napoles but some of them admitted knowing her.

Estrada in an earlier interview admitted knowing Napoles because his daughter and her nephew are classmates. He however denied having business dealings with her.

“I might have signed endorsements but I do not know if those particular endorsements belong to her or bogus non-government organizations. I wouldn’t have known,” Estrada said.

Revilla also admitted being friends with the Napoleses. In fact, the senator admitted that his son and Napoles’s son became business partners selling imported rubber shoes.

Enrile, Marcos, and Honasan said they don’t know Napoles or any member of her family.

Reward
The DOJ has ordered a manhunt operation against Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim who went on hiding after a Makati City court issued an arrest warrant against her in connection with the illegal detention charges filed against her by Benhur Luy, the key witness of the pork scam.

De Lima even called on the public to carry out citizen’s arrest of the Napoles which Tiangco considered as absurd.

The UNA official said that if the DOJ is really serious in catching Napoles, it should offer a reward for anyone who could provide information that will lead to her arrest.

He noted that knowing Napoles and her supposed connection it would be difficult to convince a civilian to personally arrest.

“The DOJ is claiming that she is a high profile fugitive so they should put a price for her arrest in order to encourage more help,” he added.

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