Santiago: Heads of agencies linked to PDAF guilty of plunder

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Friday, March 28, 2014

SENATOR Miriam Defensor Santiago vowed on Friday to help establish the criminal liability of former and incumbent officials of implementing agencies that are "equally guilty" in committing the crime of plunder and malversation of pork barrel funds.

Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Ramon Revilla Jr., along with former and incumbent congressmen, have been accused of plunder and malversation of funds before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Santiago said she will file a resolution for the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to expand its probe on the misuse PDAF to cover the culpability of implementing agencies.

"The implementing agencies should never have allowed the corrupt politicians to exert pressure in favor of certain NGOs (non-government organizations), who are supposed to have their own funds from non-governmental sources," the senator said.

Santiago, a member of the Senate panel, said the heads of certain implementing agencies, such as the Technology Research Center (TRC), National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), and Muslim Youth Foundation, are "equally guilty" with the lawmakers in committing the crime of plunder or malversation of pork barrel funds.

He said NGOs should source their funds, not from the pork barrel, but from international donors, international financing institutions, corporate donors, and others.

She said the agencies' executive officers should explain before the Blue Ribbon committee the criteria they applied in choosing the bogus NGOs that benefited from the pork barrel funds.

"At present, there appears to be no government agency that monitors the flow of public funds to hundreds of NGOs, legitimate or illegitimate. They could be political NGOs, quasi-NGOs (QUANGOs), NGOs run by socialites, or NGOs run by wives of public tycoons," she said.

If it is proven that there is criminal liability on the part of the implementing agencies, Santiago said the government should recover the misappropriated funds.

"We should throw into jail the liable public officials. After we have accomplished these measures, it follows that the guilty implementing agencies involved in the pork barrel scandal should be abolished or reformed," she added.

Santiago said implementing agencies are not even created by Congress and instead, many are subsidiary corporations of existing departments or government-owned corporations.

"These implementing agencies were created by mere administrative orders or created through the Securities and Exchange Commission," the senator said.

Santiago noted that a provision in the 2013 budget reduced the Commission on Audit's requirement on agencies of full liquidation of public funds to 70 percent of the funds.

"Who inserted this corrupt provision of the liquidation to only 70 percent of the funds? This provision was the key to corruption," Santiago said. (With Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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