Former NABCOR VP Elvira Castelo spills beans on scam
MANILA (UPDATED) – Lawyer Levito Baligod on Wednesday revealed the name of a former National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) official allegedly involved in misusing P105 million in public funds for "ghost" technical studies on agricultural products during the previous administration.
Baligod, also a private complainant in the pork barrel scam cases of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, told dzMM that the bank account of former NABCOR Vice President Elvira Castelo was used to transfer P105 million public funds to 10 non-government organizations (NGOs) and then to the pockets of officials and other parties involved in the scam.
He said the P105 million was part of the P300 million of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program of the Arroyo administration.
He explained that NABCOR tapped 10 NGOs for "technical studies" worth P105 million.
However, Baligod said no study was actually carried out, and NABCOR employees were just told to come up with the necessary paperwork to make it appear that the P105 million was used for its intended purpose.
"Nag-allocate sila ng P105 million for technical studies for rice, corn, vegetables, poultry, processed foods, etc. Pinalabas nila na mayroong 10 NGOs capable of conducting the technical study pero ang nangyari, ang employees ng NABCOR ang gumawa,"Baligod said.
"May mga portions ng study na dinownload from the Internet at noong na- print na nila using NABCOR supplies, sabi ni Mr. Javellana, 'Bakit ang nipis ng technical study? Pwede bang gawing double-spaced?'" he added, referring to former NABCOR President Alan Javellana.
Javellana is accused of pressuring former NABCOR Vice President for Finance Rhodora Mendoza into hastily signing and releasing cheques for projects sponsored by lawmakers.
Mendoza recently exposed the alleged misuse of P300 million under the GMA program in 2007.
Her lawyer, Baligod, said Castelo will corroborate Mendoza's statements about a technical study.
CASTELO'S BANK ACCOUNT
Baligod said the P105 million was initially deposited to the accounts of the NGOs. The NGOs, in turn, allegedly took their 3% cut before depositing the money to Castelo's bank account.
Castelo then distributed the remaining 97% to her bosses, whom Baligod refused to identify pending a thorough study of the pieces of evidence.
Baligod said Castelo decided to share her knowledge on the scam and execute her affidavit after former NABCOR executives Mendoza and Victor Cacal stepped forward to expose the anomalies in the DA-attached corporation.
"Maaaring alam niya na may hawak si Mrs. Mendoza na bank statements niya na ipinagkatiwala niya noon, noong mino-monitor ang cash flow sa bank account niya," Baligod said.
Baligod said a portion of the Ginuntuang Masaganang Ani funds went to lawmakers who endorsed the NGOs.
Mendoza said Castelo gave her a copy of a bank statement showing millions of pesos in deposits and withdrawals.
Then-NABCOR president Javellana allegedly ordered Mendoza to distribute the money.
The names of the lawmakers, as well as the amount they allegedly got from the scam, are listed in Mendoza's affidavit.
"Kasi sila yung mga miyembro ng Committee on Agriculture," Baligod said. "Dumating daw mga representative at ibinigay sa kanila."
Mendoza, meanwhile, said representatives of the lawmakers either went to their office to claim the money or it was handed over to Javellana.
Baligod also added that it's highly suspicious that 3 senators and 8 congressmen channeled P65 million worth of funds from the program to just 3 NGOs.
One NGO received P40 million from 3 senators and 3 congressmen.
Castelo is expected to submit her sworn statement to the justice department on Thursday.
Baligod, meanwhile, said another NABCOR official is also set to spill the beans on the scam.
Meanwhile, Baligod claimed that anomalies persist in the NABCOR under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
"Naabisuhan na ang NABCOR na magsaara sila by April 5. Tignan niyo ngayon, hanggang ngayon bumibili pa sila ng gadgets, may pinublish for bidding daw na mga purchases nila for computers, laptops, or telephones. Saan nila gagamitin iyon?" he said.
Baligod also believes that NABCOR's current president, Honesto Baniqued, has knowledge of the anomalies in the corporation, having been NABCOR's executive vice president under Javellana's term.
Baligod asked the government to ensure that necessary documents vital in prosecuting NABCOR officials involved in the anomalies be preserved.
The P300 million in Ginintuang Masaganang Ani fund was part of the estimated P5 billion NABCOR-handled funds that were misused. - with a report from Dominic Almelor, ABS-CBN News