Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ex-Bataan mayor Payumo found liable for P53M pork barrel misuse

The Commission on Audit (COA) has found former Dinalupihan, Bataan mayor Joel Payumo liable for the P53 million pork barrel funds which went to the bogus foundations of Janet Lim-Napoles.

In a four page decision dated Feb. 24, 2017, the COA Proper upheld the audit findings that there were irregularities in the government’s release of P53 million to the Napoles NGOs People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDFI) and Kaupdan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KPMFI).

The funds came from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Loren Legarda.

The COA thus ordered Payumo to return to the government treasury the disallowed PDAF.

The COA said the PDAF project for the implementation of agricultural assistance and livelihood projects stemmed from the memorandum of agreement (MOA) Payumo entered into with the Napoles foundations.

At least P38 million of the PDAF went to POPDFI while P15 million went to KPMFI through Land Bank checks issued by the municipal government between January 2012 to April 2013.

In 2014, municipal auditors issued notices of disallowance against the release of these funds to the Napoles NGOs due to violations of the procurement law and the absence of public bidding.

Auditors also said these foundations lacked the qualifications to implement the projects.

The state auditors intiailly held former Dinalupihan municipal accountant Sevilla Bislig liable for the disallowance of the pork barrel fund.

But the COA Proper granted Bislig’s appeal to be cleared of liability, noting Bislig’s letters to Payumo’s office objecting the MOA as well as on the release of the funds to the two NGOs.

“This Commission finds the written correspondences of the petitioner addressed to former Mayor Payumo sufficient and, thus, should operate to exempt/ relieve her from liability for the subject Nds. Ms. Bislig had made known her objections and reservations in several letters to the then Municipal Mayor. Given so, she ought to be excluded from liability,” the COA said.

Payumo served as mayor of Dinalupihan from 2004 to 2013.

He served as undersecretary for political affairs when he was appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2015.

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