MANILA - President Aquino has ordered an investigation on an alleged pork barrel scam right in his own backyard.
The President said he has asked the Office of the President to look into allegations that the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) is also involved in the scandal where a number of lawmakers have been implicated.
Over the weekend, the Philippine Star reported that the Commission on Audit (COA) found that some P515 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of senators and congressmen in 2012 were coursed through the Office of the president through the NCMF.
It said that based on the COA report, the funds ended up in 18 foundations and non-government organizations, some of which are identified with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
The NGOs supposedly used the money for various livelihood projects, training and seminars for Muslim Filipinos.
The President said he wants to find out the scope of the work of the NCMF as he was surprised by the finding.
He said the NCMF has been assisting in the peace process.
"To be perfectly candid about it, there are so many functions embodied in their charter which I reviewed today; and I was not clearly aware or immediately aware that they were a conduit or an implementing agency for various PDAF projects. So I want to get as thorough knowledge as possible and I have directed the concerned individuals na specifically … the Executive Secretary, at the same time the Secretary of Budget and Management and the Cabinet secretary to submit to them a thorough report on this particular issue," the President said.
The President said he wants the findings quickly.
"Well, I told them I need it as soon as possible and I want it as thorough and as complete and as correct as possible," he said.
He also said he wants to clarify the COA findings with the audit body.
Aquino said the office is one of those affected by the nullification of Executive Order No. 2 early in his administration. That order would have ordered a sweeping dismissal of midnight appointees of the previous administration.
Midnight appointees were defined as those appointed on or after March 11, 2010, which would be covered by the constitutional ban on midnight appointments. The order was initially stopped but eventually allowed by the Supreme Court.
"Even before we get their answer, I want to make sure exactly what went to whom, and why was it coursed through the NCMF. Iyong NCMF, the primary issue has been number one: if you remember iyong EO 2 was questioned and eventually taking it, went to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court eventually remanded it to the Court of Appeals and the previous chair was kept in her position even beyond her term… Until, di ba, the Supreme Court and the CA allowed us to do so. Okay, and upheld…Iyong parang EO 2 was upheld after the term had finished And that has been the primary focus whenever I think about then NCMF. They have been assisting also in the peace process. "