Sweeping statements of dubious projects unfair to other solons
By Mortz C. Ortigoza
DAGUPAN CITY – Pangasinan Congressman Leopoldo Bataoil calls the Commission on Audit not to generalize on its report that all the 49 lawmakers implement dubious projects between years 2011 to 2013.
|Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan)|
Bataoil, Representative of the 2nd District of Pangasinan, deplored the COA reports in linking him and the 48 senators and congressmen to have implemented “ghost” projects funded by their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or the controversial pork barrel.
The COA earlier said Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Gregorio Honasan II and 47 administration lawmakers were involved in alleged irregularities in the disbursement of P670 million from the PDAF and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) between 2011 and 2013.
“We have been consistent in the 2nd District of Pangasinan that there is no ghost project. With that I am always been diligent in monitoring and supervising the projects,” he disclosed in a phone interview with this paper.
He said it is also unfair to accuse the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), an entity under the Office of the President, that evaluated and approved his P4.4 million project implemented by the non government organization to groups of Muslims in his eight towns' district.
In other media interviews he said that NGO was Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation (KKAMF).
His P4.4 million has been implemented for cosmetology, alternative healthcare and fish processing to his Muslim women constituents, according to news reports.
What prompted him to help them was when he saw their plight when he was assigned as a police officer in Mindanao.
COA reports that KKAMF is not part of incarcerated pork scam queen Janet Napoles' NGOs that had shady deals with some solons.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, as reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, even calls critics not to generalize that all the 47 congressmen conspired with the bogus NGOs.
“Those people who have adequately explained themselves, there, I think we should not make them—unless there are evidences against them—we could not keep on bantering their names. But those whom the COA has found unsatisfactory or inadequately documented their liquidation or the destination of their money, that should be followed up,” Belmonte said.
Bataoil said the other projects his PDAF funded in years 2011 to 2013 were livelihood projects for organic farming, various livelihood projects, training for public school youth through Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and scholarship for the unfortunate.
“Ito iyong pinaggagamitan ng PDAF, the scholarship program, deserving indigent children, and we also provide for burial assistance for those indigent na matanda, transportation, food and non-food, and many other social services,” he stressed.
He said his pork related projects were above board because the PDAF became unconstitutional only in November 2013 where the Supreme Court, voting a unanimous 14-0, nullified it as unconstitutional as it violated the basic principle on the separation of powers..
“Before the PDAF was declared (illegal), there were two Supreme Court decisions that PDAF was constitutional. Ito lang lately na declared as unconstitutional. Wala naman ngayon na PDAF projects. Before PDAF was accepted as way of implementing projects where they are equitably (distributed) sa mga district”.
He said that he was circumspect that his PDAF has been implemented by agencies and NGOS after the funds were approved by the Department of Budget & Management.