De Lima to check lawmakers tied to pork racket

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Monday, March 17, 2014

JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima will look into the allegations that 83 lawmakers, past and present, channeled an accumulated P1.7 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to questionable non-government organizations (NGOs) from 2007 to 2009.

In a chance interview on Monday, de Lima said she wanted to know if the NGOs are linked to businesswoman Janet Napoles, who is now facing plunder charges together with some lawmakers and government officials for siphoning pork barrel funds through ghost projects.

She also assured the public that the Inter-Agency Graft Coordinating Council (IAGCC) has teams investigating other cases of pork barrel misuse.

The IAGCC is composed of the Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Justice (DOJ), and Commission on Audit (COA).

The P1.7-billion allocation was reportedly given to National Agri-business Corporation (Nabcor), one of the four agencies that tapped Napoles' NGOs as implementers of PDAF projects.

The newspaper report quoted ex-Nabcor officials Rhodora Mendoza and Vic Cacal, who went straight to the Office of the Ombudsman to share their knowledge about the scam. Mendoza and Cacal are among the 38 respondents in the charges being evaluated by the anti-graft body.

Among the lawmakers who allegedly funneled their PDAF to dubious foundations are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., who are currently under Ombudsman investigation for their supposed transactions with Napoles.

Also in the list are former Senator Edgardo Angara and administration allies ex-Oriental Mindoro Representative now Governor Alfonso Umali Jr., Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab, former Zamboanga City Representative now Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco, Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. and former Cibac Representative now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director General Joel Villanueva. (Sunnex)

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