4 Cebuanos on Luy’s files: ‘That’s a joke, a lie’-A A +A
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
ONE current and three former congressmen from Cebu denied allegations they transacted with Benhur Luy, any other member of Janet Lim-Napoles’s staff or any of the latter’s non-government organizations (NGOs).
“That is a joke. They’re playing games with innocent people. Giinat-inat na man na nila ilang mga lista, mura nag accordion (They’re stretching that list like an accordion). I vehemently deny any link to Napoles and her staff,” former Cebu City congressman Antonio Cuenco said in a phone interview Tuesday night.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported last Monday that apart from Cuenco, the names of Representative Raul del Mar and former congressmen Ramon Durano VI, Eduardo Gullas and Pablo John Garcia appeared in files that Luy kept. (Only Gullas could not be reached for comment as of press time.)
Luy’s records, the broadsheet also reported, referred to projects from 2002 to 2012 that were supposed to be charged to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The names of all five Cebuanos were marked “without SARO but on record” in the Inquirer’s report. (SARO refers to Special Allotment Release Order).
“If there’s no SARO, there is no PDAF disbursement and no implementing agency and no cash advance. No other records and documents can be manufactured to support the contrary,” said Del Mar in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu.
Before the PDAF could be released, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has to issue a SARO to the agencies tasked with implementing projects.
Garcia pointed out that the report said the projects charged to his PDAF were supposed to be implemented in the second district of the province.
“How could I have requested, much less, secured the release of funds to an LGU outside my jurisdiction?” Garcia asked. He represented the third district from 2007 to 2013.
Like Del Mar, he said that without a SARO, nothing “would support the claim that funds were released at all.”
“The evidence supporting this (Garcia’s) statement denying the accusations is with the DBM and with the local government units of the third district of Cebu,” Garcia stated.
In a statement, Durano said he always made sure he went through the proper channels in the use of his PDAF. Durano, currently vice mayor of Danao City, served in the House of Representatives from 2005 to 2013.
“Our records show that I have never allocated public funds using my PDAF to any fictitious NGOs or dealt with them,” read Durano’s statement.
“Finding that there is no SARO means that I have not endorsed nor implemented any project through them,” he added.
Cuenco, for his part, said that he never coursed any of his PDAF through the Department of Transportation and Communication, contrary to the records that Luy submitted to the Inquirer.
His PDAF, he said, was coursed only through the Commission on Higher Education for a scholarship program and the Department of Social Welfare and Development for a medical aid program.
“I don’t know who the architect is but it’s clear that they’re trying to sabotage the whole thing to soften the blow on Senator (Juan Ponce) Enrile. They’re diverting the attention of the public and dragging innocent people into the controversy,” he said.
Enrile is one of three senators who have been charged with graft and plunder in the alleged misuse of PDAF or pork barrel funds. The charges were filed based on a Commission on Audit review of how the PDAF was used from 2007 to 2009.
Del Mar, in a text message after the Inquirer released its report based on Luy’s files, said he had not a single PDAF transaction with Napoles, Luy or any of their NGOs.
“That’s a blatant lie! Their listing even states that it is without SARO but on record…I am confident that the truth will come out in due time to prove that I am not involved whatsoever in the PDAF scam, as I have been very careful in the proper use of my PDAF for the benefit of my constituents,” Del Mar said.
“Let us not lose sight of the fact that it is Napoles, Benhur and their cohorts who are the guilty perpetrators of the PDAF scam,” added Del Mar.
Of the five, he is the only one still in Congress.
In Manila, Senator Sergio Osmeña III said the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee needs to validate, by asking for documents and audit reports, any statements Napoles will make when the committee hearing on the pork barrel mess resumes.
“I would want to have it disclosed at the same time that we call Napoles here so she can right away validate which names are which,” the senator said.
He reiterated that the list in the custody of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is the only one that matters “considering that De Lima signed it and the document has been properly notarized.” That list has not been made public yet. (With Camille P. Balagtas of Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 21, 2014.