DON’T point an accusing finger on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the alleged role of nongovernment organizations (NGOs) in the pork-barrel scam. If you do, you would be barking up the wrong tree.
Legislators, who are the senators and district representatives, know fully well that the SEC is only an administrative body. As such, it registers businesses either as stock corporations or partnerships, and NGOs, which the SEC classifies as nonstock nonprofit associations.
With the alleged participation of some NGOs in the anomalous distribution of peoples’ money in the form of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the SEC might as well omit “nonprofit” from its definition. After all, some if not many of these entities could have made billions over the years, but the exact amount would never be known because nobody is volunteering to inform the people.
Here is the big BUT although it would be too late for anybody, much less Due Diligencer, to suggest: Concerned government agencies could have avoided the loss of public funds have their officials been more cautious in dealing with NGOs. Why release the money to them without first verifying their legitimacy? Did, say the Department of Agriculture, require the submission by NGOs of their SEC registration and updated filings?
All these questions could have been easily answered and the problem over the use of pork barrel if the government has an accreditation policy covering NGOs that transacts with it.
Updated filings include general information sheet, which contains the members of the board and officers. More importantly, financial filings show how an NGO has been doing financially. Have the budget department and the government’s implementing agencies of public funds obtained any of these to guide them?
A series of questions would follow such as: Were the documents submitted to “pork-barrelling” legislators genuine? Who are the incorporators and officers of these NGOs? If registered with the SEC, are these NGOs compliant with the agency’s reportorial requirements?
As events unfolds everyday on activities of fake NGOs that could have misled certain lawmakers into using them as conduits for their PDAF, it is getting clearer to the public that something was wrong in the way the Department of Budget releases the money and the trusts the government agencies which have jurisdiction over the PDAF-funded projects had on NGOs.
The budget officials could have sought the SEC’s assistance in verifying the official documents of the favorite NGOs of pork-barrel spenders. Have they done this, they could have averted the misuse of taxpayers’ money. Because they did not—and probably would not—it is up to the public to make their own conclusion on whether or not they voted for the right senators and their own representatives in Congress.
The saddest part of the tragic loss of people’s money is that nobody called on the SEC for help when in their investigation of private companies, both the Senate and the House of Representatives used to issue subpoenas to all SEC officials from the five members of the commission down to directors who are forced to obey, because of a threatening “failure-to-attend” penalty clause.
As the findings of the Commission on Audit show, not one of the lawmakers has ever been curious over an NGO’s legitimacy by simply communicating with the office of the SEC chairman. As matter of urgency, any legislator could have done the inquiry discreetly by sending his liaison officer to the SEC’s record section, who would find himself among the hundreds, if not thousands, of people fall in line daily to be served.
Here is an example how the government could prevent anomalies by using the SEC’s files on private companies: A few years ago, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) during the Arroyo administration sent to the SEC the corporate documents of three prospective bidders for unclaimed goods. Taking a look at the BOC documents, Director Benito Cataran of the SEC’s company registration and monitor concluded that the three companies were not registered with the SEC, because the signature over his printed name in each of the three SEC certificates of registration has been forged.
If the BOC of the previous administration did the right thing by checking the SEC documents of companies dealing with it, it would have been much easier for the senators and the members of the House of Representatives to get the SEC files of NGOs. After all, they are elected by the people to be feared by the people. But please pay for the copies, but not with your PDAF.