Muslim commission denies pig-raising projects

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 29 2013 11:53 AM | Updated as of Oct 30 2013 03:10 AM

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MANILA – The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos on Tuesday denied that it allowed pork barrel funds from a lawmaker to fund hog-raising and piglet-distribution projects in Davao Oriental.

In his Facebook account, NCMF Secretary Mehol Sadain reiterated that the commission did not OK any livelihood project involving pigs. Under Islamic law, Muslims are forbidden to eat pork or raise pigs.

Sadain said the misinformation came from the website of the Department of Budget and Management, which included a menu of projects for congressmen mentioning "livestock" and including therein hog and swine-raising.

The projects were for party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza of the Trade Union Congress Party and Rep. Arthur Robes of San Jose Del Monte City.

“When these projects were submitted to us by the offices of the two congressmen we told their representatives that we cannot entertain their projects unless they change them. Cong. Mendoza changed his project by having chicken and ducks are his livestock, and eliminating hogs and swine. This was the project implemented, on top of high value crops, etc. Cong Robes did not want to change, and went to another agency,” he said.

Sadain said NCMF “never allowed the implementation of any hog or swine raising project” and that what was implemented was a livestock project involving chicken and ducks.

He said NCMF monitored the implementation of the project in Davao, and the project was implemented 100% as attested by the liquidation papers and a certification signed by Mendoza.

“I am writing this to set the records straight, lest our Muslim constituents will think that NCMF has betrayed them,” he added.

The ABS-CBN report earlier said the NCMF received P14 million in priority development assistance funds (PDAF) from Mendoza in 2012 to be used for the livelihoods of Muslim Filipinos in 3 barangays in Davao Oriental.

A DBM notice of cash allocation said the money went to “livelihood development assistance program thru trainings and seminars including distribution of fingerlings, seed/seedlings and pigs/piglets in the Municipality of Baganga, Davao Oriental.”

However, Joe Arabani, chairman of the Manila Muslim Consulate Council of the Philippines, questioned why hog-raising was listed as one of the projects to be funded by Mendoza’s pork barrel allocation.

“It is an insult to our faith lalo na kung gagamitin nila ang mga kapatid nating Muslim,” he told ABS-CBN.

Agad Pakaw, a journalist and member of the International Committee of the Red Cross, also said he doubts if any Muslim Filipino actually benefited from the project.

"Wala pong Muslim dito sa pagkakaalam ko at wala pong aktibo na grupo ng Muslim dito," he said.The report said it was Mendoza who chose a bogus non-governmental organization, the Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, to implement the project.

The ABS-CBN report quoted Sadain as saying that any pork barrel-funded project coursed through NCMF must not involve pork, hogs or swine.

Sadain also conceded that the project mostly benefited victims of Typhoon Pablo in Baganga, Davao Oriental, and that most of the typhoon victims are non-Muslims. “It was too late for us to object kasi nandun na e,” he said.

Officers of the Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation have yet to come forward to identify the alleged beneficiaries of the livelihood project.

An earlier ABS-CBN report said Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, which implemented the project, got P173.1 million in pork barrel funds from Mendoza in 2012.

ABS-CBN did not find the office of the NGO in the addresses provided in the foundation’s incorporation papers.

The report said 9 lawmakers gave P80 million in PDAF to NCMF in 2011. In 2012, the NCMF received P514.7 million in pork barrel funds from 2 senators and 36 congressmen.