COA: 46 congressmen got DAP funds from milk feeding project

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Monday, August 18, 2014

MANILA -- Some 46 current and former lawmakers have received multi-million peso allotment from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) after they backed the impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, the Commission on Audit (COA) said.

Based on the report released by the state auditors, lawmakers who have been given DAP allotment, whose funding came for a milk feeding project from the National Dairy Authority (NDA), were Representatives Jorge Banal II (Liberal Party, Quezon City), P5 million; Jorge Almonte (LP, Misamis Occidental) P5 million; Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA party-list), P10 million; Imelda Calixto-Rubiano (LP, Pasay City), and Abigael Faye Ferriol (Kalinga).

The COA report also stated that among those with projects who have yet to be started despite the availability of funds were House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (LP, Quezon City), P5 million; Benjamin Asilo (LP, Manila); Maria Carmen Zamora-Yapsay, (LP, Compostela Valley); and Romero Quimbo (LP, Marikina City).

Malacañang reportedly released a total P229.6 million to the NDA on December 21, 2011, 10 days after the House of Representatives elevated the articles of impeachment against Corona to the Senate.

The COA found serious irregularities in the disbursement of DAP money.

Among these were the anomalous purchases of the choco-flavored milk supplies by Aklan Representative Florencio Miraflores from his daughter.

State auditors also noted the questionable signatures in disbursement documents.

Aside from the impeachment of the former chief magistrate, the approval of the Reproductive Health bill, the increase in so-called sin taxes and the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2012 or K-12 were among the reported measures suspected of having been approved after being sweetened with DAP funds.

Also included were militant party-list Representatives Antonio Tinio (ACT party-list) and Emmy De Jesus (Gabriela party-list), who both endorsed the impeachment of President Benigno Aquino III on account of his approval of the unconstitutional DAP.

Tinio, for his part, said they took part in the NDA Milk Feeding Program in response to a communication from Belmonte’s office.

“We stand by the reports of the Department of Education personnel involved in the implementation of the two projects, including district supervisors, principals, and teachers that the projects were fully implemented, deliveries of the required quantities of milk were actually received by the teachers, and these were actually distributed to their students,” said Tinio.

Yacap partylist Representative Carol Jayne Lopez admitted that she took part in the program because the funds were available and would benefit her constituents.

“The funds were fully used for the purpose they were allocated. The elderly, pregnant and lactating mothers and young children in several localities in Mindanao benefited from the health program,” the lawmaker said.

Also, the COA listed other lawmakers included in the list and they were Representatives Roy Loyola, P3 million; Herminia Roman, P1.5 million; Agapito Guanlao, P2 million; Roberto Puno, P3 million; Jorge Banal, P5 million; Alfredo Garbin, P3 million; Winston Castelo, P5 million; Vicente Belmonte, P1 million; Sharon Garin, 10 million; Florencio Miraflores, P2 million; Roger Mercado, P1.6 million; Carol Jayne Lopez, P3 million; Nancy Catamco, P2 million; Bernadette Dy, P10 million; Antonio Ferrer, P3 million; Abigael Faye Ferriol, P3 million; Justin Marc Chipeco, P3 million; Oscar Malapitan (now mayor of Caloocan City), P6 million; Joseph Victor Ejercito (now senator), P4 million; Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David, P6 million; Bai Sandra Sema, P2 million; Godofredo Arquiza, P3 million; Mariano Michael Velarde, P3 million; Ponciano Payuyo, no amount; Teodorico Haresco, P5 million; Emerenciana de Jesus, P2.4 million; Linabelle Ruth Villarica, no amount; Vicente Crisologo, P5 million; Jose Benjamin Benaldo, P10 million; Leopoldo Bataoil, P1 million; Antonio Tinio, P3 million; Rommel Amatong, P2.1 million; Czarina Umali, no amount; and Isidro Lico, no amount.

The state auditors also mentioned the lawmakers whose projects have yet to be started but have already been funded, and these include Belmonte Jr., P5 million; Miro Quimbo, P1 million; Edwin Olivarez, P5 million; Benjamin Asilo, P5 million; Ma. Carmen Zamora-Yapsay, P2 million; Acmad Tomawis, P3 million; and Romeo Acop, no amount.

Also stated in the COA report were those with projects with Special Allotment Release Order (Saro) but unobligated. They were Representatives Pangalian Balindong, P5 million; Rafael Mariano, P2.5 million; and Randolph Ting, P3 million.

The report also included legislators who received Saro but without advice of allotment and they were Representatives Baby Alline Vargas-Alfonso, P2 million; Ryan Luis Singson, P3 million; Teddy Casino (former Bayan Muna party-list Representative), P5 million; Carlo Lopez, P5 million; Emergenciana de Jesus, P700,000; and Raymond Palatino (former Kabataan party-list Representative), P6 million.

Meanwhile lawmakers belonging to the Minority and Independent Minority Bloc who bashed for linking DAP to the Corona impeachment welcomed the COA report, saying they have been vindicated.

Representatives Lito Atienza (Buhay party-list), Tobias Tiangco (Navotas City) and Jonathan de la Cruz (Abakada party-list) earlier claimed that Malacañang used DAP funds as a carrot in pressing for the support to its legislative proposals, including the ouster of Corona.

“That’s what we have been suspecting. Now, it should be told if they went through Napoles-type of laundering proving beyond doubt pillage and plunder,” said Atienza.

Tiangco said his claim of bribery in the Corona impeachment has been confirmed by COA.

The former Navotas City mayor was stripped of his post as chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development (MMDA) for his anti-impeachment stance.

For his part, De la Cruz said the COA report "confirms what the public has always feared that the DAP was used not just for selected projects but more for politics." (John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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