Press Release
February 28, 2013

Statement of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

I utilize my Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or "pork barrel", with utmost adherence to transparency and accountability.

Senators do not receive these funds, which are released directly to the implementing offices, such as the Department of Agriculture. Our only participation in the entire process is to identify the projects to be funded out of our PDAF allocation, the localities where they are to be implemented and to indicate the amounts intended for such. These are made under the guidelines issued by the DBM. The DBM sets the limits, the qualified implementing agencies and the type of projects that can be funded through the PDAF.

In the particular case of the Department of Agriculture, the Senators' offices are merely asked to indicate our confirmation regarding the intended recipients and beneficiaries of the projects we have identified. We routinely confirm this because it is the DA's responsibility to ascertain the capability, competence or qualifications of these recipients and to accredit them accordingly.

The funds in the total amount of P74.69M that I had allocated for agricultural and livelihood projects out of my PDAF in 2008 and 2009 were released to the Department of Agriculture, which in turn, released the money to a GOCC called Zynac Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC); ZREC then released the funds to the questioned foundation called Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI).

There is no layering of transactions that would perhaps allow us to personally or financially benefit from them without being found out.

The news report said the COA report reiterated its previous recommendation to ZREC to require PFI to refund P162 million due to fabricated documents and forged signatures it submitted for the liquidation of funds received from ZREC.

When I checked with my office, the documents much earlier sent by COA supposedly for verification purposes contained "liquidation" reports and documents signed by a certain Petronila A. Balmaceda as President of PFI and at the bottom, the supposed signatures of my staff members were obviously either forged or super-imposed to indicate my "Conforme". Above the signatures of my staff members, the papers said: "By authority of the Senate President".

For the record, none of my staff members have ever signed any so-called liquidation documents relating to the implementation of projects that I have identified as beneficiaries of my PDAF. It is not our role to liquidate these funds.

It is also reported that the COA recommended that ZREC inform Enrile et al. "that PFI should no longer be granted any fund assistance and have it blacklisted."

We have never been warned nor have we ever received any such notification from ZREC nor the Department of Agriculture. I have no knowledge of nor any link to PFI, or the one identified as its President, Petronila Balmaceda.

In relation to this issue, Chairman Grace Pulido Tan had earlier informed me and the Speaker that the COA was conducting a "SPECIAL AUDIT" of the PDAF of all Senators and Congressmen, (I believe she said for the years 2008-2010). She said she knew that some lawmakers were concerned that they were being singled out or targeted. But she clarified that the special audit was not directed at the lawmakers but at the implementing agencies. I said that I understood her point, it was a job she must do and I personally had no worries or qualms about the utilization of my own PDAF being scrutinized by the COA.

In the interest of fairness, transparency and justice, and to penalize those parties who may have financially benefited from the PDAF funds which are meant to help our constituents, I urge the Commission on Audit to officially release IN FULL its findings and observations borne out by its special audit.

The COA which is a Constitutional body must not allow itself to be used by anybody to achieve political or partisan ends by allowing a piece-meal or selective disclosure of parts of its report, if indeed it has completed its special audit. It must explain the parameters and the scope of its audit and, in all fairness, point out the parties responsible for any shenanigans in the use of public funds without fear or favor.

News Latest News Feed