Sep 062013

Former undersecretary Narciso Nieto authorized the release of P900 million sourced from the Malampaya Fund to nine non-government organizations linked to alleged pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said on Friday.

Nieto was undersecretary of then DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman when the funds were released.

“The request was made by Undersecretary Nieto as the officer-in-charge. In the normal course of operation pwede siyang mag-request,” current DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes was quoted as saying in a television report aired on GMA’s “24 Oras” newscast on Friday. 

“Kasi ginagawa naman palagi ‘yun ‘pag kinukulang ng pondo ang isang departamento, ginagawa ‘yun. But normally, an amount this big is normally cleared with the secretary,” the DAR chief also said.

GMA News tried to contact Nieto for comment, but he was not immediately available.

The DAR said the P900 million was supposed to have been distributed among areas affected by Typhoon Pepeng and Ondoy in 2009. DAR was the implementing agency. 

Its investigation also revealed that the Malampaya fund went to 12 non-government organizations including the nine of Napoles.

The DAR has provided copies of checks to the National Bureau of Investigation. The checks were distributed to 97 towns that supposedly benefited from the fund.

“Hindi nadatnan ng internal audit kung nasaan na ‘yung mga NGO na ‘yun. Malalaman sa tseke saan naka-deposit ‘yung tseke, at ‘yung ang binigay natin sa NBI,” Delos Reyes noted.

Earlier, whistleblower Merlina Suñas, a former employee of Napoles, detailed how the businesswoman drew the Malampaya fund.

Suñas said they forged documents including endorsement letters, project proposals and even mayors’ signatures.

Some mayors have denied that their city or municipality gained from Malampaya fund.
Earlier, the DAR said a total of P900-million fund from the Malampaya fund was disbursed to the department in 2009.

The funds were released through NGOs, which were purportedly tapped by local government units to distribute “Farm Initiative Production Kits.”

According to DAR, the biggest chunk of the Malampaya Fund for LGUs was released to Region I. Pangasinan supposedly received P180 million for Urdaneta City, while other municipalities that also supposedly received P10 million each include Banna, Pagudpud, Bacarra, Paoay, Pasuquin, Solsona, Vintar, Sinait, Marcos and San Nicolas in Ilocos Norte; Bagulin and Tubao in La Union, and Pulilan in Bulacan. — RD/ELR, GMA News

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