Senate ‘pork’ probe to target NGO registration
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate will resume its investigation into the pork barrel scam, this time focusing on the creation of bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III issued an advisory announcing the resumption of the probe on Thursday, January 30.
“The said hearing will focus on policy issues such as the registration, accreditation and monitoring of NGOs that deal with government contracts,” Guingona said.
The committee invited Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairperson Teresita Herbosa to the hearing.
The SEC has jurisdiction over all corporations, partnerships and associations that are the grantees of franchises, licenses and permits issued by the government. It also approves or rejects registration statements and licensing applications.
Guingona’s panel is investigating the multi-billion pork barrel scam, where lawmakers allegedly endorsed fake NGOs of alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles as recipients of funds for pet projects. In the scheme, they supposedly connived with Napoles to get at least 50% of the funds as kickbacks.
Napoles, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, and other individuals face a plunder complaint before the Ombudsman over the biggest corruption scandal in recent Philippine history. (Read Pork Tales: A story of corruption)
The other invited guests are:
- Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan
- Governance Commission for Government Owned or Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) Chairperson Cesar Villanueva
- Cooperative Development Authority Chairperson Emmanuel Santiaguel
- Government Procurement and Policy Board (GPPB) Executive Director Dennis Santiago
- Philippine Council for NGO Accreditation Chairperson Augusto Carpio
In past Senate hearings, principal whistleblower Benhur Luy and other former Napoles aides testified that the she ordered them to set up NGOs with interlocking incorporators, common auditors, and notaries public in their SEC documents.
The incorporators were supposedly individuals associated with Napoles like her relatives, house help, and even drivers.
Procurement rules violated
In the plunder complaint, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said the accused violated procurement laws and GPPB resolutions.
“The projects are awarded to these NGOs by the implementing agencies as endorsed by the lawmakers without any corresponding appropriation law or public competitive bidding. The Napoles NGOs are not even shown as qualified to bid for government projects costing millions of pesos,” it said.
The NBI said indicators of anomalous project implementation were ignored like recurring beneficiaries of the same training, overpricing, ghost beneficiaries, or non-delivery of the project.
“What is given priority is complete submission of liquidation documents on overpriced supplies or ghost delivery of supplies and lists of bogus beneficiaries, without any validation of the same through ground monitoring in the community supposed to be benefitted by the project.”
The Senate continues its investigation even after the NBI filed plunder complaints over the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scams. (READ: How the Malampaya fund was plundered)
Guingona said last December that the inquiry will shift its focus to the Malampaya fund scam, where the P900-million allocation of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) from the Malampaya fund was allegedly channeled to Napoles NGOs. The funds were intended for typhoon victims.
“We have the same goals but in Malampaya, the way I see it, [our focus is] more on local governments and the use of the funds of the DAR,” he said.
Napoles faced the committee last November 7 but repeatedly said she knew nothing, and that “there is no scam.” – Rappler.com