Recto, Lapid implicated in NABCOR fund scam

by Dominic Almelor, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 04 2014 08:21 PM | Updated as of Apr 08 2014 05:56 PM

But Recto denies endorsing NGO to NABCOR; Lapid can't recall

MANILA - Two more senators and a number of former congressmen have been implicated in the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) fund anomaly worth tens of millions of pesos.

Two former officials of the now-defunct agency claim these lawmakers endorsed questionable non-government organizations that pocketed funds from the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) program of the Arroyo administration.

Whistleblower Rhodora Mendoza gave ABS-CBN News her signed statement on the NABCOR fund mess.

The former vice-president for finance of NABCOR said that aside from Senator Bong Revilla, Senators Lito Lapid and Ralph Recto also endorsed questionable non-government organizations (NGOs) that got funds from NABCOR for agri-based livelihood projects in 2007.

Mendoza claimed that P65 million went to 3 NGOs implicated by the Commission on Audit in the pork barrel scam.

Around P40 million supposedly went to the "Kapuso't Kapamilya Foundation Inc." endorsed by Revilla, Lapid, Recto, former Davao Oriental representative and now Governor Corazon Malanyaon, former Bohol Rep. Roberto Cajes, and former Southern Leyte congressman and now Governor Roger Mercado.

Meanwhile, P20 million went to the "Kalinga sa Kapwa at Kalikasan Foundation Inc." endorsed by former Lanao del Norte Rep. Alipio Badelles and former Batangas Rep. Eileen Ermita-Buhain.

The remaining P5 million allegedly went to the "Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Inc." endorsed by former Bohol Rep. Eladio Jala.

The money is part of the P300-million fund for NABCOR's GMA program.

Mendoza said the lawmakers' endorsements went through her.

"Personally kong nakita iyung endorsement. They were using the letterhead of the legislators. It passed through (former NABCOR president Alan) Javellana's office and it was forwarded to Finance for processing," she said.

"Ang anomalous diyan ay pinili iyang mga NGOs nang walang public bidding," said Atty. Levito Baligod, lawyer of the whistleblowers in the NABCOR fund mess.

Recto, in a statement, denied endorsing any NGO to NABCOR.

"The Ginintuang Masaganang Ani was a project implemented through DA and NABCOR funds. And, undoubtedly, we had nothing to do with it. Our office never wrote a letter asking NABCOR or any agency to consider an NGO in the implementation of a particular project," he said.

Revilla, who is currently abroad, has yet to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, Lapid's office said it may have endorsed an NGO but cannot really recall the details.

"Pagka-ganoong mga humihingi lang ng endorsement letter, hindi na namin natsi-tsek kung totoo yang mga foundation na 'yan sa dami ng mga naglalapitan sa mga senador," said Lapid's media relations officer Alex Marcelino.

Jala, meanwhile, refuses to comment until he sees his supposed endorsement letters.

"I have to be guided by the document first before I could categorically confirm if that was my signature, if I made the document myself," he said.

Reached for comment, Malanyaon, Buhain, and Mercado all denied any involvement in the anomaly.

ABS-CBN News is still trying to get reactions from Badelles and Cajes.

'YAP ORDERED COVER-UP'

Still on Mendoza's affidavit, former Agriculture Secretary and now Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap allegedly ordered NABCOR officials to cover up the misuse of NABCOR funds.

"Pag linisin, ayusin kasi hindi nila maliquidate dahil irregular yung implementation," Baligod said.

Yap, however, denied ordering anyone to tamper with NABCOR documents.

"Kung nagkita man kami, wala akong binibigay na kautusan na lumabag sila sa batas o na linisin ang mga papeles sa kontekstong man-doktor sila ng papeles," he said.

Baligod is hoping the Justice Department will soon act on the controversy exposed by Mendoza and fellow whistleblower Victor Cacal. - with ANC