MANILA, 17Aug2013 – The Commission on Audit Friday bared its findings on the special audit it undertook on the Priority Development Assistance Fund which showed the misuse of billions of pesos of the so-called pork barrel by lawmakers and other government agencies.
In a hastily called press conference, COA chairman Grace Pulido-Tan said the special audit, which covered the period 2007-2009, clearly showed irregularities in the use of the PDAF ranging from excessive pork barrel allocations, overpricing to ghost deliveries and ghost beneficiaries.
Pulido-Tan told reporters the irregularities became possible because of a combination of corruption and the failure of national government agencies, lawmakers’ offices, and lapses by the Department of Budget and Management itself, which did not follow its own rules in some cases.
She said that her agency is already in the process of issuing notices of disallowance, a process that she said could take one year.
Some of the key findings of the special audit which took nearly two years to complete include:
1. Dozens of lawmakers received PDAF beyond their respective allocations.
Senators are each given P200 million in pork barrel funds every year while congressmen receive P70 million each.
Surprisingly, one lawmaker, whom she declined to name, allegedly received P3 billion of PDAF in all.
2. Some funds were released for projects outside of a congressman’s legislative district or sector.
3. One non-lawmaker, a certain “Luis Abalos,” received P20 million PDAF and no agency could explain how this happened.
4. No endorsement from the agencies for which the funds were released, which violates the DBM’s own rules.
“The releases were essentially at the behest of the sponsoring legislator. The agencies merely relied on endorsement of legislators. The money was given to the agencies and the agencies gave it to the NGOs,” Pulido-Tan said.
5. Of the 82 NGOs covered by audit, many had dubious addresses; some were traced to shanties, or just the home addresses of some members.
6. The delivery of goods and services by NGOs, amounting to billions of pesos, were not made through public bidding.
7. Many NGOs used the same suppliers usually for purchase of agriculture products; some suppliers denied transacting with NGOs while some admitted selling seedlings and other products but denied that the transactions reached millions of pesos.
8. Some suppliers had no business permits when COA checked with respective LGUs.
9. P123 million of funds were used to pay salaries of workers in NGOs
10. Many projects were deficient, overpriced, lacked specifications and subject to split contracts.
11. 54 projects costing P154 million were constructed on private lots, with no evidence that the lots were turned over to government.
12. There were also cases when the list of beneficiaries was taken from the list of those who took the Board Exam.
Pulido-Tan said her agency would leave it up to “investigating agencies, specifically the Office of the Ombudsman and Department of Justice,” to pursue the cases and file charges. (PNA)