Aug 212013
Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. on Wednesday denied alleged irregularities in the release of millions of pesos from their pork barrel funds.

At a press briefing, Cayetano countered the Commission on Audit (COA)’s findings that he gave P2.6 million to local government units (LGUs) for projects that were not in the “menu” specified by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“During that time, you can give financial assistance to local government units that lack financial capability and it is up to them what to do. I did not specify what to do,” Cayetano said Wednesday.

In a special audit report released Friday, the COA said Cayetano released P2.6 million to three barangays in Taguig for projects without formal proposals and beyond the list of programs allowed by the DBM.

The COA said these barangays used Cayetano’s pork barrel, formally known as the priority development assistance fund (PDAF), to buy uniforms for the barangay council, house numbering plates and fire busters.

Cayetano however said he is certain that the money was used for their intended purposes. He added that it is up to LGUs to submit documents required by the COA.

“If the COA report said I stole the money, I’d question it. But if they’re just saying na kulang ng papel, it is up to the barangay or LGU to answer it because I did my part of making sure that the money was not stolen,” he said.

The senator added that he is willing to submit all documents to the COA for scrutiny.

Bong’s lawyer: No ‘pork’ to NGOs

Revilla, through his lawyer Joel Bodegon, for his part said an initial review of documents from their office showed that the senator did not endorse any release of PDAF to non-government organizations (NGOs).

In a statement, Bodegon added that it is the implementing agencies, not the lawmakers, who have the responsibility of verifying the legitimacy of NGOs.

“Indeed, even if a NGO has an endorsement from a legislator, the implementing agencies may still choose not to release the funds to the NGO, if upon its verification, it finds the NGO illegitimate or incapable of assisting the implementing agency in the project,” Revilla’s counsel said.

He added that the COA report “does not impute liability of culpability to any legislator, including Senator Revilla.”

Bodegon further said that Revilla’s office has already asked the help of a handwriting expert to confirm the senator’s signatures in all letters endorsing PDAF releases.

Prior to the release of the COA report, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published a series of reports linking Revilla and four other senators to an alleged scam using some lawmakers’ PDAFs to fund ghost projects worth P10 billion undertaken by bogus NGOs. — BM, GMA News

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