COA directive: Senators told to return pork funds
MANILA — The Commission on Audit has told Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Gregorio Honasan III to return the millions of pesos in pork barrel funds that they had allegedly funneled to questionable nongovernmental organizations.
COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan confirmed that the commission had sent out notices of disallowance to the four senators and others over the illegal funneling of at least P6 billion pork barrel from 2007 to 2009 to questionable NGOs.
“Yes, we’ve sent them out,” Tan told the Inquirer. “You have to trust us that we’ve sent them.”
Given the sensitivity of the matter, Tan refused to give other details, except to say that the senators “have the right to appeal.”
Revilla’s lawyer said he would appeal this. Enrile’s lawyers said they were studying how to respond to this but Estrada and Honasan did not reply to requests for interviews.
Tan, while being grilled by Estrada during a hearing on COA’s 2014 budget in October last year, said the lawmakers were “jointly liable” for the “disallowed fund,” and as a consequence, would get a notice of disallowance.
Estrada then scoffed at the prospect of refunding millions of pesos that he said were under the control of the heads of implementing agencies, not the lawmakers.
“That’s the consequence of notice of disallowance. Those who will get such notice would become jointly and solidarily liable for the return of the money, and that is a matter of law,” Tan said then.
Tan had said earlier that COA would issue thousands of notices of disallowance after a special audit showed that P6.2 billion in pork barrel funds had been transferred to 82 NGOs from 2007 to 2009, including at least eight that had links to Janet Lim Napoles.
Among the sources of the funds were Revilla (P413.29 million), Enrile (P332.7 million), Estrada (P191.58 million) and Honasan (P14.55 million).
Revilla, Enrile and Estrada as well as Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the pork barrel scam, and 34 others face plunder charges in connection with the scam.
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