Ex-solon welcomes probe on pork fund use

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BAGUIO CITY  – Former Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara welcomed the conduct of an investigation regarding the alleged misuse of some P3.67 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that was coursed through a foundation duly accredited by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), saying that the utilization of the said funds was properly liquidated by the recipient foundation.

Vergara said the matter should be referred to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) being a competent investigation agency to look into the matter as it is unfair for the Commission on Audit (COA) to declare that there was a misuse of the funds when auditors of the constitutional body passed the same through pre-audit proceedings.

The former Baguio lawmaker was among the 47 lawmakers that were linked to the alleged misuse of some P670 million PDAF allocations after having coursed the same through the NCMF. Another Cordillera congressman linked to the said controversy is incumbent Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao who reportedly used some P5.5 million funds for NGOs accredited by the NCMF.

“WE welcome the conduct of the investigation because we are confident we can clear matters in relation to the use of the funds through a foundation accredited by the NCMF. We want the NBI to pursue the investigation,” Vergara said.

In a final accomplishment report submitted by the Kagandahan ng Kapaligiran Foundation, Inc., Sherry Joy Vivar admitted having received some P3.67 million from the PDAF of former Rep. Vergara under the NCMF for the distribution of livelihood technology kits Volume I to V and the conduct of various seminars as part of a livelihood program .

“The foundation pursuant to the memorandum of both parties completed the delivery of 593 sets of livelihood technology kits and seminar trainings with 595 participants. This signifies that 100 percent of the project activities have been completed, satisfying the requirements for the release of the final tranche,” Vivar stated.

Vivar disclosed the venues of the seminar trainings were conducted in the conference hall of the Baguio-Benguet Community Credit Cooperative, Inc. (BBCCCI) and that the date of implementation was on January 7, 2013.

According to her, the seminars included meat processing with 119 participants, fish processing with 119 participants, fruit processing with 119 participants, paper flower making with 119 participants and dimsun making with 119 participants. Vivar revealed the conduct of the activities and the distribution of livelihood kits was closely monitored by NCMF staff who was named as Zaida Annabelle Santiago.

In his letter to NCMF Secretary Mehol K. Sadain dated 30 January 2013, Vergara informed the Commission that the foundation was able to fully implement the desired livelihood projects funded under his PDAF amounting to P3.67 million.

The lawmaker underscored the importance of the conduct of an in-depth investigation on the issue because the accusation that there was misuse of the funds is unfounded, baseless, unfair and malicious on his part as there was a legitimate foundation that implemented the project and the beneficiaries were bonafide residents of the city who used the livelihood kits and the knowledge they learned from the trainings for their livelihood. By Dexter A. See

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