As we qet more clear concept on how lawmakers dipped their hands into the Presidential Development Assistannce Fund, there will be more stories that will unravel. Here’s one for the province of Catanduanes, courtesy of the Party list representatives of A-Teacher and Alagad.
Books as gardening manuals and worms for backyard vermiculture projects were among the items distributed in Catanduanes by “dubious” non-government organizations under a P7-million livelihood project funded through the pork barrel of two party list representatives two years ago.
The NGOs involved were identified as Gabay at Pag-Asa ng Masa Foundation, Inc. (GPMFI) and its two “sister” foundations – Gabay sa Magandang Buhay Foundation, Inc. (GBMFI) and Ikaw at Ako Foundation. Inc. (IAFI), according to a report of the weekly local paper Catanduanes Tribune released over the week.
These foundations were among those tagged along with those of Janet Lim-Napoles by the Commission on Audit (COA) to be behind a massive money-making scam that involved congressional fund called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), popularly referred to as “pork barrel” of several lawmakers, the report said.
GPMFI, GBMFI and IAFI were identified as having been given a total of P108 million from the solons’ PDAF in 2007 and 2009.
The three NGOs shared the same address – 5019 North Road, Raminel Subdivision, Veinte Reales, Valenzuela City – at a residential unit owned by one Myra Villanueva, who is also project coordinator of Kasangga sa Magandang Buhay Foundation, Inc. (KMBFI).
According to the Catanduanes Tribune, A TEACHER Party List headed by Rep. Julieta Cortuna and ALAGAD Party List of Rep. Rodante Marcoleta channeled the releases in 2011 of P4 million and P3 million in PDAF funds, respectively, through the local government of Virac.
The two party list representatives requested then Virac Mayor Jose Alberto II to release the amounts directly to the project implementer, GPMFI, for the vermi-composting/vegetable gardening and other income-generating livelihood projects, including the distribution of manuals.
Each of the 230 vermi-composting and vegetable gardening sets cost P3,500 while the 2,130 manuals cost P1,500 each.
On Jan. 31, 2012, Alberto ordered the municipal accounting office to release the funds upon written authority from the two congressmen after the execution of the memorandum of agreement covering their disposition, the Tribune said.
The MOA was signed by a certain Marilou Ferrer of GPMFI as one of the group’s incorporators, directors and stockholders and also an official of three other NGOs: Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Inc. (KMFI), Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation, Inc. (KKAMFI) and Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (KapKFI).
Villanueva, who reportedly migrated to the US in 2010, was also an official of these groups that COA reports cited by Tribune said had siphoned a total of P971 million in PDAF funds in 2007 and 2009.
Of the amount, P58.6 million came from the PDAF of former Catanduanes representative Joseph Santiago, it said.
Among the findings of the COA special audit regarding the NGO transactions were: total disregard of the procurement law in ensuring the lowest price; same list of beneficiaries submitted to two different agencies; list of beneficiaries taken from published list of board passers in various professions; and, multiple attendance of beneficiaries in the same or similar trainings conducted by different NGOs for as many as 15 times, receiving multiple number of the same kits.
Two Virac establishments – Cathy’s Restaurant and Music Avenue Band – were even named as among the suppliers of KKAMFI for their various livelihood trainings, several of which were funded by Santiago in the amount of P27.16 million.
The two establishments, however, have denied transacting business with KKAMFI, according to the Tribune report. (from the report of Catanduanes Tribune and PNA- Danny Calleja)