TRC chief: P500-M 'pork' channeled to Napoles NGOs

By Ding Cervantes, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 28 2013 01:55 AM | Updated as of Sep 28 2013 09:55 AM

CLARK FREEPORT – A government official implicated in the pork barrel scam on Friday revealed some P500 million worth of pork barrel funds of lawmakers coursed through his agency went to Janet Lim-Napoles.

Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general Dennis Cunanan said his agency got some P2.450 billion worth of pork barrel funds from lawmakers from 2007 to 2009, of which P500 million was channeled to non-government organizations (NGOs) put up by Napoles.

Cunanan told a press conference here that in 2010 when he assumed the TRC post, he had blacklisted 44 of the erring NGOs, including eight linked to Napoles.

He said he examined the records that showed “questionable transactions” of the NGOs with the TRC.

According to Cunanan, the Commission on Audit (COA) took notice and conducted a special probe on the pork barrel funds that were coursed through the TRC.

He said COA confirmed the failure of the 44 NGOs to report how the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers were spent and where it went.

Cunanan had been deputy director general of the TRC from 2007 to 2009 with Antonio Ortiz as his boss.

Cunanan recalled that in 2007, Ortiz issued a circular limiting him to handling funds for projects costing no more than P1 million.

“In December of the same year, even this power was stripped from me and was transferred to our legislative liaison officer,” Cunanan said.

Apart from Cunanan, Ortiz was also implicated in the scam with Napoles.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing of charges of plunder against Napoles before the ombudsman for allegedly conniving with several lawmakers in putting up fake NGOs to embezzle funds.

Cunanan also claimed former Pampanga representative Mikey Arroyo was among those who coursed his PDAF through TRC.

Cunanan though admitted he could not remember how much Arroyo had allocated for a local NGO.

“What happened was that the NGOs approach politicians to find out whether any PDAF is available from them. The politicians then choose which agency they preferred to course the funds through. TRC is included in this menu. The NGOs come to us or any agency of their choice with a recommendation of the politician who (will) authorize (the) SARO (special allotment release order),” he explained.

As for his being implicated in the case, Cunanan said he immediately went on leave to dispel any suspicion he would use his post to influence the outcome of the investigation.

Cunanan stressed he had nothing to do with pork barrel funds that were coursed through the TRC.

“Records will show that when I was appointed as TRC director general in January 2010, I immediately directed non-government organizations and people’s organizations which had pending accounts and deficiencies with the TRC to liquidate their accounts and settle their deficiencies,” he said.

Cunanan said the COA even appreciated his move, in its Special Audit Report No. 2012-03 Annex D page 279, released in August.

Before the pork barrel scam broke out in the open, Cunanan said he issued orders to be strict in processing projects covered by PDAF.

On June 21 last year, Cunanan said he again issued a similar memorandum even though the TRC no longer received any PDAF from lawmakers.

Cunanan said he cut short his trip in the US for his election as incoming secretary-general of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) after learning he was among those implicated in the scam.

“I would like to assure the Office of the Ombudsman and the authorities that I have no plans of evading the charges against me as my conscience is clear,” Cunanan said.