Way Kurat: The damage has been done

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 22 2013 08:33 PM | Updated as of Aug 23 2013 04:33 AM

representative of Compostela Valley Manuel "Way Kurat" Zamora

MANILA – Compostela Valley Vice Gov. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora expressed dismay over the clerical mistake in a Commission on Audit (COA) special report that showed he received P3 billion in pork barrel funds when he was a congressman in 2007.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has admitted its error, but Zamora believes that the damage has been done, saying the public now views him in a different light because of the report.

Zamora, who is known to live a simple lifestyle in the province, said he is not expecting any apologies from the government agency, adding that it is not necessary.

“’Yung mga 1 million na tao na nadinig ang issue, ‘yun din ba ang mga taong makikinig sa sorry? Na-realize ko, it’s futile. Wala na eh, nasira na…Ngayon kahit saan ako pumunta, ang mga tao nakatingin sa akin,” he told dzMM on Thursday.

Zamora said some of his constituents believe that he did receive the large amount, and they open their palms when they see him as if asking for their share.

“Ganoon palagi ang nakakasalubong ako,” he said.

“Para akong natatawa na naiinis. Natawa ako kasi alam ko naman talaga na wala akong pagkakamali kasi wala naman talagang ganoong kalaking transaksyon sa gobyerno. Nainis ako in the sense na bakit ako ginaganon, bakit ako ang in-involve sa ganoon?” Zamora added.

When the COA report was released last week, Zamora said he kept silent because he felt helpless in defending himself.

He added that he spoke to COA chair Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan and asked her to double check the records, but Tan defended the audit findings.

“Sabi ko, sigurado ba kayo na sa akin ‘yan, sabi ko take a last glance, baka ma-realize niyo na mali. Sabi niya sa akin, hindi kami pwede magkamali,” said Zamora.

The vice governor reiterated that COA should have double checked instead of relying on DBM’s figures and releasing it to the public.

“Ang sa tingin ko ay ‘yun bang magka-error ka ng P3 billion tapos ikaw mismo ang nag-declare na mayroon talaga akong natanggap na pera na P3 billion, sa aking honest belief ay mas malaki ang kasalanan ng COA. Kapag ba binigyan ka ng DBM ng papel, tama lang ba na mag-rely ka lang sa kanila. Hindi ka ba pwede mag-countercheck?” he said.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. said the mistake stemmed from a P3-billion project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which had the same statement of allotment release order (SARO) number with Zamora’s allocation of P500,000 for a multipurpose building.

Tan, meanwhile, remains firm that COA did not make the mistake, saying the problem was caused by DBM's poor record-keeping from 2007 to 2009.