The Pork Trail: 2016 Candidates Allegedly Involved in the PDAF Scandal

You might be surprised how many candidates currently have pending cases for misuse of public funds.

PDAF elections

 

(SPOT.ph) The Priority Development Assistance Fund may have been declared unconstitutional, but the nightmare that alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles unleashed on the country is far from over. Napoles—who is accused of facilitating the funnelling of certain lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation into bogus non-government organizations—is now in detention along with others who have been deemed as guilty of being in cahoots with her.

 

Some of the politicians whose names were found on Napoles' infamous lists seem to have escaped the stigma of the pork barrel scam controversy as they are running for national positions. 

 

It must be noted, though, that the so-called Napoles lists remain contentious, as there are allegations that they may have been manipulated for political purposes.

 

Nevertheless, we thought we'd have a quick review of who among the politicians currently running for national office have found themselves embroiled in the pork barrel scam mess—from those who were named in Napoles' lists to those who were accused by other parties.

 

Has the stink of the pork controversy affected their campaigns or has the issue been forgotten by the nation?

 

Note: This list has been limited to candidates running for president, vice president, or senator. 

 

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano

 

Running for: Vice President

Allegation date: In an investigation by a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in May 2014, an Excel file showing whistleblower Benhur Luy's records showed that cash advances were made to Cayetano when he was a Taguig congressman. He was also tagged by Sen. Ping Lacson as one of the lawmakers on Napoles' list of those involved in the pork barrel scam. 

Alleged amount cited: Not specified

Response: He claimed the alleged list was a "weapon of mass distraction and destruction," adding, "I have nothing to do with Napoles. I have never met with her. Ni singko wala kami nilagay sa any business nya o kaya NGO niya."

Status: No resolution yet

 

Drilon Napoles

 

Sen. Franklin Drilon

 

Running for: Reelection 

Allegation date: In late 2013, photos of Drilon at a social function with Napoles surfaced, to which he responded: "There is a clear effort to implicate me and make me appear guilty by association. I reject such implications." In May 2014, Whistleblowers Association president Sandra Cam accused Drilon of being Napoles' protector at the Senate, and had him on her copy of the list of lawmakers involved in the PDAF scam, alleging that his name was omitted from the copy submitted to Department of Justice Sec. Leila de Lima.

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Alleged amount cited: P75 million remains unliquidated, according to a November 2014 Commission on Audit report. For that reason, a plunder case was filed against him in December 2014 by Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco Jr. at the Office of the Ombudsman. (A number of plunder cases had already been filed against Drilon, one of which alleged that he conspired with Department of Public Works and Highways Sec. Rogelio L. Singson and Department of Tourism Sec. Ramon R. Jimenez to gain from the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center in 2013.)

Response: "I can account for every  peso of my pork barrel. That’s why I’m very confident and I’m very strong in my statement that I’m not in any list and I have not utilized to the NGOs which are charged to be fake. I can account for every single peso of the funds that were  allocated to me under the budget." While the PDAF was supposedly abolished in the 2015 budget, there have been insinuations that it has merely been renamed to Bottom-up Budgeting.

Status: The plunder case involving the Iloilo Convention Center has been dismissed by the Ombudsman. Another complaint for alleged misuse of public funds was filed against Drilon and other officials, including President Noynoy Aquino, in October 2015.

 

 

Sen. Chiz Escudero

 

Running for: Vice President 

Allegation date: In May 2014, it was reported that Escudero was on the list of public officials who were allegedly involved in the pork scam. The said list was in the possession of former senator Ping Lacson. While he admits having met Napoles, Escudero insists that he never dealt with her. “(It was) not true. I had no dealings with Napoles. I also didn’t receive anything from her and I am ready to prove that whenever the accusation is raised.” In June 2014, he was among the lawmakers named by the Department of Budget and Management as the biggest recipients of pork barrel disbursements in 2013. 

Alleged amount cited: Not specified  

Response: "Wala akong ina-allocate maski na piso na PDAF o anumang pondo sa NGO ni Napoles. Wala rin akong pinakinabangan mula sa kanya." 

Status: He was chair of the senate finance committee that led the abolition of the PDAF in 2014, but has been criticized by rival candidate Rep. Leni Robredo over his inaction, in the course of his many years as congressman and senator, in the removal of lawmakers' discretion in the use of public funds

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Former senator Richard Gordon

 

Running for: Senator 

Allegation date: In 2013, he was among the legislators cited in the Commission on Audit (COA) special report that looked into the release of PDAF to questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009. A report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in 2012 found that Gordon allocated at least some of his pork funds to the Philippine Red Cross, for which he has served as CEO since 2004. 

Alleged amount cited: P52.1 million  

Response: Gordon has said that allocating funds to the Red Cross is "the most bang for the buck" when it came to taxpayers' money, adding, “If there’s any conflict of interest there, then I’m the one on the losing end.” He has not made any comment regarding his involvement with Napoles, though it has been noted that he abruptly dropped his investigation of her in relation to the fertilizer fund scam in 2009.

Status: No resolution yet

 

 

Sen. Gringo Honasan

 

Running for: Vice President 

Allegation date: In October 2013, Honasan was named in the Napoles controversy for giving P14.55 million to one of her foundations. But he denied giving preferential treatment to her or her husband Jaime, a retired Marine officer who joined the 1989 coup led by Honasan, saying their NGO was selected by the implementing government agency. In June 2014, it was reported that Honasan allegedly allocated P15 million of his PDAF to the bogus non-government organization Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc., which was put up by Janet Lim Napoles.

On August 7, 2015, The Department of Justice filed malversation, graft, and bribery charges before the Office of the Ombudsman against Honasan. 

Alleged amount cited: P1.75 million  

Response: "I do not just deny it. It is ridiculous. The amount imputed to me, I could have passed the hat to my closest friends, and I could have gotten more. It's not even the cost of a low-end SUV." He added: "Do you think I would risk my 17 years as soldier, seven years as rebel, and 18 years as senator, the name my grandfather passed on to me, for that amount?" 

Status: No resolution yet

 

 

Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

 

Running for: Vice President 

Allegation date: On April 6, 2016, a group called the iBalik ang Bilyones ng Mamamayan filed a plunder complaint against Marcos at the Office of the Ombudsman. In a report from August 2014, the Commission on Audit disapproved for being “illegal and irregular” the P10 million channeled by Marcos to a livelihood project in Nakar town, Quezon province, through a foundation headed by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.

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Alleged amount cited: P205 million  

Response: At the PiliPinas Debates 2016 held on April 10, Marcos said, "Nais kong sagutin dahil itong mga alegasyon na biglang inilalabas ng ating kaibigan (Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano) ay tungkol sa PDAF. Alam n'yo po, kung babasahin n'yo po ang affidavit ni Ms. Napoles, s'ya mismo ang nag-clear sa akin. Sinasabi na hindi kami magkakilala. Wala kayong nakitang picture na magkasama kami." He added: "Eh kaya naman po, maliwanag na maliwanag, wala po ako kinalaman d'yan sa mga PDAF scam na pinag-uusapan. Nagugulat lang po ako na lumalabas ngayon dito. Palagay ko ay dahil nga pamumulitika na naman ang ating hinaharap." 

Status: No resolution yet

 

 

Sen. Francis Pangilinan

 

Running for: Senator

Allegation date: In May 2014, Pangilinan's name was one of those that appeared in Benhur Luy's electronic records of drafted letters soliciting funds from government agencies.

Alleged amount cited: Unspecified

Response: "Please, media should not waste its time with baseless and unfounded allegations," he told GMA News.

Status: No resolution yet

 

 

Sen. Koko Pimentel

 

Running for: Reelection 

Allegation date: In May 2014, it was alleged that a copy of Napoles' list received by former senator Ping Lacson initially contained the name of Sen. Koko Pimentel and his father, former senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. as well.  

Alleged amount cited: Unspecified 

Response: "I've met with (Napoles) on May 2012 and she requested a project in my Priority Development Assistance Funds. I rejected it." 

Status: He filed criminal and administrative charges against agriculture officials whom he believes forged his signature for an organic fertilizer project where Napoles was also involved. However, the reports didn't say if the senator's father also had a response to the pork scam allegation.

 

 

Sen. Ralph Recto

 

Running for: Reelection 

Allegation date: In 2013, he was among the legislators cited in the COA special report that looked into the release of PDAF to questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009. He was also among the lawmakers whose names appeared in the draft letters in whistleblower Benhur Luy’s files. The letters supposedly requested fund assistance from government agencies like the Department of Agriculture and other related entities. 

Alleged amount cited: P28.4 million  

Response: Recto denied any participation in the scam. He also obtained a certification from the Department of Agrarian Reform saying that the agency has not received a letter from him dated August 30, 2010. 

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Status: No resolution yet

 

 

Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez

 

Running for: Senator 

Allegation date: In 2013, he was among the legislators cited in the COA special report that looked into the release of PDAF to questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009. (Incidentally, he was also one of the congressmen who were said to have paid for then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's U.S. $20,000 dinner at Le Cirque in Manhattan in 2009, which he now denies.)

Alleged amount cited: Not specified 

Response: Romualdez denied the allegation and criticized COA chairman Grace Pulido-Tan for what he referred to as an "erroneous report," demanding that she resign. Pulido-Tan retired from the COA in 2015 and considers the controversial COA report her legacy, as it prompted the probe on the pork barrel scam.

Status: No resolution yet

 

 

Former DILG chief Mar Roxas

 

Running for: President 

Allegation date: In 2013, he was among the lawmakers cited in the COA special report that looked into the release of PDAF to questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009.  

Alleged amount cited: COA had noted that Roxas gave P5 million of his PDAF to the Kaloocan Assistance Council, Inc. through the Department of Social Welfare and Development Central Office. Kaloocan Assistance Council, Inc (KACI) is allegedly a dubious NGO. 

Response: In a September 2013 press briefing, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, "Any suggestion that Sec. Mar Roxas is involved in any scam is malicious." Lacierda added, "He is not on the unliquidated list; he is not on the self-created NGO list; he is not on the fake or ghost NGO list; he is not on the Napoles related list." Lacierda went on to point out that KACI is not specifically listed as one of those which are considered to be bogus NGOs connected to Napoles. 

Status: No resolution yet  

 

 

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago

 

Running for: President 

Allegation date: In 2013, she was among the lawmakers cited in the COA special report that looked into the release of PDAF to questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009.  

Alleged amount cited: A report in The Philippine Star noted: "Santiago reportedly exceeded her PDAF allocation by P26.5 million in 2008, allocated P14.7 million of her PDAF to fund a deficient or poorly constructed project in Tarlac and provided financial aid to LGUs in Tarlac and Taguig in the values of P37.2 million and P17.3 million, respectively, where the transactions arising from the same had procurement law violations and were supported by questionable documents." 

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Response: "For the record, I never had dealings with Napoles. The Napoles list, if unsigned, has no evidentiary value at all," she said in a statement released in May 2014.

Status: No resolution yet 

 

 

Sen. Tito Sotto

Running for: Reelection 

Allegation date: In March 2015, one of the pork scam whistleblowers, Merlina Suñas, named Sotto as one of the lawmakers in cahoots with Napoles along with senators Loren Legarda and Bongbong Marcos.

Alleged amount cited: Around P100 million 

Response: He refused to comment on the issue because, as he put it, it was not worthy of his attention. 

Status: No resolution yet

 

 

Former TESDA chief Joel Villanueva

 

Running for: Senator 

Allegation date: On August 7, 2015, The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed malversation, graft, and bribery charges before the Office of the Ombudsman against Villanueva. In April 2016, COA reported that P198.7 million worth of TESDA expenses was irregularly disbursed. Villanueva also allocated his PDAF for supposed TESDA expenses after the Supreme Court had ruled the PDAF unconstitutional.

Alleged amount cited: P2.33 million  

Response: He claims: "It's a complaint submitted based on fake documents and signatures as affirmed by the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation]. My contract is with our people and our President [Noynoy Aquino] not with my detractors or with the DOJ that is proven to be not always right." 

Status: No resolution yet

 

 

Former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri

 

Running for: Senator 

Allegation date: In 2013, he was among the legislators cited in the COA special report that looked into the release of PDAF to questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009. 

Alleged amount cited: Not specified 

Response: "Let’s make it clear that I have not allocated any part of my PDAF to dubious, fake or ‘Napoles’ like NGOs," he said in a letter to COA chief Grace Pulido-Tan in 2013. "Hindi tayo nasangkot sa PDAF scam at anumang korupsyon. Idagdag n’yo na po ang delicadezang ating ipinakita bilang senador," he said in October 2015.

Status: No resolution yet

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