MANILA – According to a report by the Commission on Audit (COA), Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Gregorio Honasan II and 47 other Congress representatives have allegedly squandered P670 million funds supposedly meant for Muslim Filipinos but were transferred to questionable nongovernment organizations instead.
The COA disclosed that the funds were taken from the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Both programs were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), an agency founded for the benefit and culture preservation of Muslim Filipinos, was the supposed receiver of the released budget. It had, however, allowed the funds to be transferred to dubious nongovernment organizations.
The senators and representatives themselves chose the various nongovernment organizations that became beneficiaries of the released funds. But according to the COA, the selection of beneficiaries should have been done by the NCMF. The agency also had incomplete documents of the grants and no liquidation of the budget allotted to them.
The NCMF, for their part, explained that they allowed the lawmakers to choose the beneficiaries as this was the ‘common practice’ in other government agencies.
“It is incorrect to say that the NCMF allowed the legislators to impose their chosen NGOs without the checking the eligibility of these NGOs,” the COA said.
The NCMF, however, asserted that they imposed a 15-point accreditation process to ensure that the selected nongovernment organizations were fitting beneficiaries.
The questionable foundations were allegedly funded by Honasan and Enrile with P30 million and P25 million, respectively.
Enrile, together with Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, had been previously tagged in Napoles’ multi-billion pork barrel scam. The senators are currently detained while their cases are still being heard.
Former Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada, one of the 47 representatives, stressed that his programs were implemented. To his defense, he claimed that his projects were not ‘ghost projects.’
“You can check with the NCMF with regard to their implementation,” Tañada said.
The questionable nongovernment organizations who received funding were Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Inc., Rich Islas de Filipinas Foundation Inc., Maharlikang Lipi Foundation, Kapuso’t Kapamilya Foundation Inc., Kagandahan ng Kapaligiran Foundation Inc., Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc., Livedures Foundation Inc., Coprahan at Gulayan Foundation Inc., and BL Personal Touch Foundation Inc., among others.