THE Commission on Audit maintains that the government must recover P443.29 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund funneled by various legislators through the Philippine Forest Corp. to fake non-government organizations in 2012 and earlier years.
Despite the approval by Malacañang of the abolition of PhilForest in November 2013 and the official cessation of its operations in January 2014, the Commission released a March 31 report of the receivables and unpaid obligations of the dissolved government-owned and controlled corporations that could be included for possible write-off. The money must be returned to the Bureau of Treasury in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling that declared PDAF unconstitutional.
The Forest Management Bureau under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was designated to wrap up PhilForest’s remaining business.
In a Feb. 18 letter to the audit team, FMB said the dissolved corporation had P25.48 million balance of the pork barrel fund in its account with the Land Bank of the Philippines that was ready to be refunded to the BTr.
Audit observation memoranda as well as notices of suspension and disallowance were sent to FMB for the collection of the PDAF receivable from the NGOs identified as Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation Inc. (KKFI), Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc. (MLFI), and the Kalipunan ng mga Samahan ng Mamamayan Inc. (KASAMA), Focus on Development Goals Foundation Inc. (FDGFI), Interactive Training Opportunity on Needs Alleviation Movement Inc. (ITONAMI), Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Inc. (KMFI), Livedures Foundation Inc. (LFI), and Workphil Foundation Inc. (WFI).
The 2012 and 2013 audit reports named Senators Manuel Lapid and Gregorio Honasan as sources of the PDAF along with Representatives Ma. Evita R. Arago (Laguna), Ponciano Payuyo (APEC), Jose Benjamin Benaldo (Cagayan de Oro City), Nicanor Briones (AGAP), Salvador Cabaluna (1-CARE), Ramon Durano (Cebu), Antonio Kho (Masbate), Michael Angelo C. Rivera (1-CARE), Nelson Dayanghirang (Davao Oriental), Antonio Alvarez (Palawan), Isidro Lico (Ating Koop), Yevgeny Vicente Emano (Misamis Oriental), Fatima Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte), Teodorico Haresco (Aklan), Raymond Democrito Mendoza (TUCP), Jose Aquino (Agusan del Norte), Robert Raymund Estrella (Abono), Reynaldo Umali (Oriental Mindoro), Maria Isabelle Climaco (Zamboanga City) and Rodolfo Valencia (Oriental Mindoro).
The audit body recommended that available records of the PDAF transactions be forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman for investigation and possible filing of criminal charges.