MANILA – Lawmakers have no responsibility to verify the existence of non-governmental organizations (NGO) that receive their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, a multimillion-peso amount allocated to them every year that's now the subject of a corruption scandal.
This is according to Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of five senators whose PDAF reportedly went to bogus organizations created by alleged scammer Janet Lim Napoles.
Estrada said it is the Department of Agriculture's job to check NGOs receiving pork barrel funds.
"It is not up to the senators to determine whether an NGO is bogus or not," he told reporters on Thursday.
"Alangan naman na kami pa ang magsasabi na, 'Uy, bogus 'yan.' How will we know?" Estrada added that lawmakers only endorse NGOs, and that they do so in good faith.
He said he himself he himself would like to get to the bottom of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, despite being implicated in it.
"Gusto ko lang malaman sa mga kinauukulan kung saan talaga napunta 'yong para sa ating magsasaka dahil ang ating mga magsasaka, mga kababayan nating mahirap, sila mismo ang nagre-request sa aking tanggapan na sila ay mabigyan ng ayuda," said Estrada.
Meanwhile, Estrada said Napoles was his "acquaintance," and they only met during parents' meetings in school, where his daughter and her nephew were classmates.
He clarified that he never had business dealings with Napoles and did not know if the PDAF endorsements he signed before were actually for her.
"I wouldn't have known," he said.