Aug 222014
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. admitted Friday that he had requested the mayor of General Nakar in Quezon province to have a non-government organization controlled by Janet Lim Napoles implement a livelihood project funded by his pork barrel allocation in 2012.

Marcos, however, said that “at no time did I direct, authorize or cause the approval of the disbursement of P10 million to the SDPFFI (Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc.),” one of Napoles’ alleged bogus NGOs.

SDPFFI was then headed by whistleblower Benhur Luy, at that time a close aide of Napoles.

In a press statement, Marcos said that he received sometime in 2012 a request from the municipality of General Nakar to finance a livelihood project.

He granted the request for financial assistance as the project was included in the menu of projects allowed to be funded under the Priority Development Assistance Fund pursuant to the 2012 General Appropriations Act or GAA.  

“This request, together with other projects proposed for funding under the Senator’s PDAF was submitted for review to the Senate Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office and the Committee on Finance for the endorsement of the Senate President,” Marcos said.

Marcos added that the Senate President transmitted these requests to the DBM and it was the DBM that determined the validity of the requests and projects prior to the issuance of Special Allotment Release Orders (SARO).  

He said the DBM bases its evaluation on whether the requests for financial assistance were in accordance with existing DBM guidelines.

Marcos said the DBM, on June 4, 2012, issued  SARO no. BMB-G-12-T00002502 to the identified implementing agency, the municipality of General Nakar in Quezon province.

He said, in a letter dated June 26, 2012,  he merely requested General Nakar municipal Mayor Leovegildo R. Ruzol tap the services of SDPFFI as a co-implementor of the project, subject to existing and applicable rules and regulations.

 “Whenever I endorse a request for financial assistance, I always remind the implementing agency that the release of the funds under my PDAF allocation for the implementation of the project should be in accordance with existing government rules and regulations,” Marcos said.

“ I could not have caused the disbursement of the funds since, as a senator, I do not have the power to do so.  Neither did I at any point have custody of or control of the PDAF funds,” he added.

He said that under existing laws, it is the DBM, thru the SARO, that is mandated to release the funds directly to the recipient and implementing agency which, in this case, is the Municipality of General Nakar, Quezon province.

“These funds do not go through me,” Marcos added.

COA disallowed funding

A report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer said the Commission on Audit has disapproved the channelling of P10 million from Marcos’ PDAF to a livelihood project in General Nakar implemented through SDPFFI as it was undertaken without due regard to existing laws and regulation.

The COA issued a notice of disallowance and ordered Ruzol to return the P10 million withdrawn from Marcos’ PDAF and transferred to the NGO.

But the COA main office in Quezon City  has yet to get a copy of the audit report mentioned in the news article.

“Malamang galing sa regional office and information na yan wala pa dito sa main. Bawat audit team ay pwedeng mag-issue ng notice of disallowance basta may nakita silang irregularity,” Director Jonathan Beltran of the COA public information office told GMA News Online.

The senator said that immediately after receiving the notice of disallowance from the COA on August 18, 2014, he directed his office to inquire from the office of the municipal mayor why the release of the funds intended to assist a livelihood project was disallowed by COA.

Marcos said he was surprised when COA included him in the said notice of disallowance, saying that as far as he is concerned, he approved the request of the Mayor of General Nakar to fund livelihood projects meant for poor farmers. 

On August 19, 2014, Marcos wrote Ruzol a letter to inquire about the propriety or impropriety of the implementation of the said livelihood project.

 While waiting for the reply of the mayor, the senator directed his legal team to prepare the appeal on the notice of disallowance issued by COA.

“Definitely, this is devoid of any factual and legal basis,” Marcos said. —NB, GMA News

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