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National

Enrile: I don't know Napoles, I didn't use pork for bogus NGOs, P325M wrongly put in my name

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, in a June 2013 file photo.

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATED) Former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile on Friday denied allegations that he had used his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to bankroll the project of bogus non-government organizations (NGO).

At a press conference at the Senate office in Pasay City on Friday, Enrile, now the Senate minority leader, also denied knowing Janet Lim-Napoles, who is at the center of the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam. 

According to Enrile, he received a lot of requests from politicians to fund projects in various areas and not directly from NGOs. 

"I've not received any request from any NGO," Enrile said. 

The Commission on Audit recently bared that P6.2 billion worth of PDAF from 2007 to 2009 sourced from Enrile, and senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, and Gregorio Honasan, were transferred to 82 NGOs, which were either bogus or non-existent. 

Enrile urged former Department of Budget and Management Rolando Andaya to "clarify that portion of the report of the COA." 

He said the "records are not being disclosed" and that he wanted to "know if I am one of the beneficiaries of those funds." 

Enrile said he is for the abolition of the pork barrel. "Dapat itigil na 'yan, kung i-continue [It should be stopped, if it would be continued], limit to projects that are subject to public bidding." 

Funds of other senators wrongly attributed to him

At the same time, Enrile said the DBM--whose data were used by COA---mistakenly attributed to him monies drawn by offices of other senators who merely sought his endorsement as Senate chief.

“Aside from being culled from missing or incomplete records for reasons I have discussed, the pork barrel amounts attributed to me are distorted and misleading,” Enrile said in a press conference.

Enrile said the COA report is misleading because some P325 million attributed to him as part of his Priority Development Assistance (PDAF) was actually projects of various legislators who requested for his endorsement.

The Department of Budget and Management website shows that he availed of his PDAF to the tune of P727 million. Enrile said: “Our records of the Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) issued by the DBM, however, show that the amount of P325 million representing the projects of the following legislators were attributed to me as part of my PDAF in 2009:

 

                Sen. Rodolfo Biazon                                        P20 M

                Sen. Chiz Escudero                                          P20 M

                Sen. Jinggoy Estrada                                       P50 M

                Sen. Lito Lapid                                                   P42 M

                Sen. Loren Legarda                                         P33 M

                Sen. Mar Roxas                                 P20 M

                Sen. Miriam Santiago                                     P50 M

                Congressmen-Members of the CA          P90 M

                                                                                TOTAL: P325 Million

Enrile said the above-mentioned legislators merely sought his endorsement as then Senate President for the release of funds for the various projects under their own PDAF, “some of which were accommodated under the Economic Stimulus Fund under the 2009 GAA.”

“Yet, the DBM incorrectly accounted for these projects and attributed them to me,” Enrile said.

Distorted facts in COA report

As he commended COA under the leadership of Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan, for finally coming out with the findings of its Special Audit in the implementation of PDAF and Various Infrastructure including Local Projects (VILP) covering 2007-2009, Enrile pointed out the following:

The Executive Summary of the Report itself states (on pp. 5-6) that:

“a. The DBM could not provide the Team, despite repeated requests, with complete schedule of releases per legislator from PDAF for soft projects and VILP for hard projects. Only the schedule of releases from VILP for hard projects identified by the legislators named therein was provided, covering releases of P32.347 Billion x x x x

“b. From the data gathered by the Team x x x x, such schedule excluded around P69.261 Billion x x x x. The concerned legislators of such releases cannot, however, be identified.x x x x”

“Hence, if we were to look at THE TOTALITY of such releases identified by legislators under the VILP, PDAF and “other sources”, this amounts to P115.988 BILLION. But actually, the COA was only able to trace or audit P46.727 Billion or 40% because of the DBM’s failure or refusal to cooperate with the audit,” Enrile said.

Enrile also said that DBM, under former Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., must explain why it kept and continues to keep the COA and the public in the dark regarding the P70 billion legislators’ infrastructure projects.

“Why did the DBM fail or refuse to disclose to COA the complete schedule of PDAF releases for soft projects?  Who among us Senators and Congressmen asked for such releases under the VILP? To what kind of projects did this huge amount go? Were these legitimate expenditures?  Enrile asked.

“Was and is the DBM protecting some “sacred cows” or hiding the identity of the legislators concerned as well as its own negligence, incompetence, if not complicity and participation, in what is now known as the PORK BARREL OR PDAF SCAM?” Enrile added.

Enrile is the first legislator, in an earlier privileged speech, who had asked COA to divulge to the public the contents of the full report on the pork barrel audit. “When news reports came out early this year on alleged anomalies involving the PDAF where I was named as one of those Senators whose PDAF ended up allegedly in bogus projects of equally bogus NGOs, I was the very first to call for a  FULL DISCLOSURE of the COA’s SPECIAL AUDIT REPORT. I issued that call way before the name of Ms. Janet Lim Napoles came up,” Enrile said.

Extra funds to Congress leaders

The former Senate chief also said that for information of the public and for the sake of transparency, every official of both House of Congress, the House of the Representatives and Senate, including chairmen of Senate finance and House appropriations committees, are allocated amounts “over and above’ their regular PDAF annually.

ldquo;The leaders of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee confer with each other and with the Budget Secretary as to the amounts that are agreed to be distributed EITHER AS PORK BARREL ALLOCATIONS OR AS BUDGETARY INSERTIONS. This is a fact. The PDAF and the VILP do not represent the totality of each legislator’s “congressional initiatives (CIs),” Enrile said.

Former Budget chief Andaya per senator and P70 Million per congressman was “minimum” amounts as he put it. Senate President Drilon on the other hand correctly pointed out that the actual release of the pork barrel was a prerogative of the President, noted Enrile.

“Therefore, the PDAF or pork barrel is not really the “equalizer” that it purports to be. The system confers upon the Executive the power and discretion to either “deprive or bless” any legislator; to slash his pork barrel, delay its release or to deprive him altogether; or to grant amounts OVER AND ABOVE the budgeted amounts for each member of Congress,” Enrile explained.

Justified public outrage

Enrile said that under these circumstances and in the light of the revelations made in connection with the Napoles and/or PDAF scam, the public is justified in its outrage and urgent call to abolish the pork barrel which was restored in 1989.

“But if it must be scrapped, the pork barrel system should be scrapped totally. We should not only look at scrapping the PDAF but include the various “pork barrel” or lump sum appropriations of all departments of government under the GAA as well,” Enrile said

Enrile continued that he is ready to be investigated and prosecuted if anyone can prove that he financially benefited from the unscrupulous and illegal schemes of criminal syndicates, whether masterminded by Ms. Janet Lim Napoles or her ilk and cohorts in and out of government.

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