Published: 8/5/13 - 4:05 p.m. | Updated: 8/5/13 - 7:47 p.m.
By Joyce Ilas
Three senators and 10 House representatives channeled millions of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to three bogus nongovernment organizations linked to Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10-billion peso pork barrel scam.
The former president of National Agribusiness Corp (Nabcor), Allan Javellana, confirmed this on Thursday during the second hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the scam.
He revealed that Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., and Jinggoy Estrada, along with some House members, requested Nabcor to transfer funds from their pork barrel to the following NGOs:
- Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation (MAMFI)
- Social Development Program for Farmers Foundations Inc. (POPDFI)
- People's Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI)
The three senators gave a total of P323 million of their PDAF to these companies through Nabcor.
Based on a Commission on Audit report, Enrile gave more than P145 million to all three NGOs. Revilla gave almost P90 million to MAMFI and SDPFFI. And Estrada gave the same two NGOs more than P88 million.
Javellana said these three NGOs were all headed by former Napoles employee Benhur Luy, who blew the whistle on the scam.
He recalled that Luy walked into his office carrying documents signed by lawmakers endorsing his or her PDAF to several NGOs.
But when pressed by Sen. Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, on what these documents contain, Javellana's memory failed to serve him.
Javellana also revealed that he met with Napoles twice in a coffee shop in Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center, Pasig, where she holds office.
He said Napoles was introduced to him by Boy Harmin, a former Nabcor employee, as a businesswoman who wants to invest in NABCOR's joint venture projects.
But when pressed again what he and Napoles talked about, Javellana's memory failed him again.
But he said that he was not aware that Napoles and Luy were working together.
The former finance head of Nabcor, Rhodora Mendoza, corroborated Javellana's statements.
The Nabcor officials said that that PDAF allocations were released in four tranches for every project.
Each succeeding allocation, however, was not released unless the previous one had been liquidated.
Mendoza said Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla signed and certified as correct all liquidation reports that the NGOs submitted.
The House member mentioned at the hearing were Representatives Contrado Estrella III, Erwin Chingbian, Rodolfo Plaza, Victor Ortega, Samuel Dangwa, Edgar Valdez, Mark Douglas Cagas IV, Rizalina Lanete, Arthur Pingoy Jr., and Rodolfo Valencia.
Meanwhile, the former president of Zamboanga Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC), Salvador Salacup said his agency also gave some PDAF to the SDPFFI, another Napoles-linked NGO.
This disbursement was requested by Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives Rep. Edgar Valdez, who coursed P10 million from his PDAF in 2007.
Salacup added that Enrile, Estrada, Revilla, and Valdez and Buhay Rep. Rene Velarde also requested ZREC to transfer their pork barrel funds to another NGO - the Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (Pang-FI). But this NGO is not associated with Napoles.
Based on the COA report, however, Pang-FI engaged in irregular transactions – 35 of its suppliers could not be located, while 193 of its beneficiaries denied receiving agricultural items allegedly distributed.
As in the case of Nabcor, Salacup recalled seeing endorsement letters signed by legislators and their representatives, requesting the transfer of their PDAF to Pang-FI.
In the end, both Javellana and Salacup agreed that they had been duped by lawmakers.
Both Nabcor and ZREC are now in an advanced stage of abolition process.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Nabcor could no longer support itself financially, while ZREC was no longer relevant.
Estrada, Enrile, and Revilla earlier denied their involvement in the pork barrel scam. They claimed they were not aware that these NGOs were bogus.
The questions hounding the scam involving the people's money are now slowly being answered.
Next hearing, the public will have a first glimpse of the documents that will prove that senators indeed channeled their funds to bogus NGOs.
The next question is, how strong will this evidence stand against some senators' claim that these signatures were merely forged.
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Pia Hontiveros, Chief Correspondent and anchor of Solar Network News and News.Ph, presents the Solar News and Current Affairs year-ender special: On the Cusp of Change. A deafening silence, not out of a loss for words but a grief that cannot be spoken, for thousands lost to a super typhoon ... A muted pain from a powerful tremor that violently shook the heart of the nation ... An unspeakable anger over pork barrel that fueled a political maelstrom ... These and other stories from the extraordinary challenging year that was.