Miriam: Syndicate offers senators 'pork kickbacks'

By Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2013 04:11 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2013 03:53 AM

MANILA - Sen. Miriam Santiago wants the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate a Commission on Audit (COA) report that said the pork barrel of 3 senators and a party-list congressman went to a bogus non-governmental organization.

Santiago said that while Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla have already denounced links to the anomaly, the Senate "is still faced with the fact that their names clearly appeared in the COA document."

Santiago said even with the assumption that the signatures were forged, she still wants to know why these 3 senators were chosen out of the 23 senators.

"Bakit sila ang napili?" she asked.

Santiago said the NBI should be involved because if the signatures were forged, their technical expertise is needed.

"The Senate has no capability of doing that. We cannot just trust the senator, saying: 'Oh, that's not my signature,'" she said.

She also believes there is a syndicate that runs these "invisible NGOs."

"They operate and offer their services individually to the senators, I think that is what happens."

Santiago said she has never been approached personally but she explained that the syndicate goes from senator to senator.

"They promise to take care of all details for a cut. They also specify what figure will go to the senator. They specify exactly how much in million of pesos," she said.

A report from the Commission on Audit (COA) showed that almost P206 million worth of pork barrel funds of 3 senators and a party-list lawmaker went to the bogus NGO Pangkabuhayan Foundation Incorporated (PFI) in 2009 and 2010.

COA said the officials' priority development assistance funds (PDAF) were released by the DA to ZREC (ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp), a government-owned and -controlled corporation, which then appropriated the funds to PFI.

However, a COA investigation showed not one area in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) reported by PFI had a project.

Estrada admitted nominating PFI after the Department of Agriculture (DA) assured him that it was a legitimate NGO.

He added it is the job of the implementing agency -- in that case the DA -- and not the senator to scrutinize an NGO's background.