THE CAMP OF Vice President Jejomar Binay has released a statement in reaction to an earlier series of stories published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on the pork barrel issued to Congressmen, Senators, and more recently, even to the Vice President himself.
In the fourth of a five-part series on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more popularly known as the pork barrel, the PCIJ revealed that Binay has been able to tap into the pork barrel trough, a privilege that had previously been available only to legislators.
Binay’s camp had earlier declined requests for an interview by the PCIJ. Recently, however, Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado sent the PCIJ a rejoinder. We are publishing the statement of Salgado in full in the interest of fairness.
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Sorry for the belated rejoinder to your report on the Vice President’s PDAF. We wanted to be as thorough as possible to make sure we got things right.
We regret that the PCIJ report contained factual errors and erroneous conclusions. These could have been avoided had the research been more thorough and the bias less obvious.
1. Dr. Julius Drilon resigned as Director of Ospital ng Makati in 2009. A simple check with the roster of City Hall officials in the Makati website would have confirmed this. (Interestingly, Dr. Drilon is still listed as Hospital Administrator of Ospital ng Makati in the online directory of government and private hospitals. – ed)
2. In the section “COA: Adverse Findings,” your report made a sweeping statement on how Makati has been complying with COA rules and disbursing PDAF. We admit there have been delays. However, the PCIJ did not report what caused the delays.
On the 157 multi-cabs and 12 used vehicles donated to sister LGUs, COA-Makati required in 2009 that aside from formal acceptance of the donated vehicles from the recipient local governments, the respective COA units in these LGUs should also issue a separate acceptance.
This additional documentary requirement imposed by COA, aside from the delayed submission of documents from the LGUS, added to the delay in dropping these donations from the Book of Accounts.
In 2010, the city government requested COA-Makati to lift this requirement. The resident auditor agreed to only require the submission of a Deed of Donation duly signed and notarized, Certificate of Vehicle Registration and Official Receipt.
As a result, Makati was able to clear the backlog in three weeks. You will notice that the item on the multi-cabs no longer appeared in the 2011 audit report.
3. On the supposed P29.9 million unused PDAF. The city receives PDAF not only from the OVP. It has been receiving PDAF from Senators and Congressmen for certain projects they want implemented in Makati, and some of the unused funds date back to 2004.
I cannot believe that the PCIJ is unfamiliar with the process of PDAF disbursements. The PCIJ should know that there are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled by the PDAF donor prior to actual disbursement, among them identifying the recipients and the purpose of the fund, and the submission of memorandums of agreement. In the case of the P29.9 million in “unused” PDAF, the donors have yet to fully comply with these requirements. We also want to emphasize that the money is intact and will be disbursed once the donors fulfill the documentary requirements.
Regarding the PDAF of Rep. Abigail Binay, the funds allocated to the three NGOs identified in the report were utilized for housing and livelihood projects, which are her advocacies. These projects were fully implemented and completed.
These NGOs have submitted documents for liquidation to the City Accounting Department. However, the Accounting Department and COA-Makati has required them to submit additional documents.
We were told that the NGOs are in the process of complying with the additional requirements. But it is wrong to hint at wrongdoing on the basis of the failure of an NGO recipient to immediately submit full documentation.
Lastly, and contrary to your report, Makati has been posting its bidding notices in the city website and in Phil-GEPS. Makati has received a Seal of Good Housekeeping from the DILG for CY 2011 for “promoting accountability and transparency in local governance” because all bid notices are uploaded in its website. And according to Phil-GEPS administrators, Makati is only one of three LGUs who have been complying faithfully with the requirement to post bid notices in the Phil-GEPS website.
Again, let me reiterate that Makati was chosen as an implementing entity because it already has an existing network of sister-cities and municipalities, most of them classified as 4th, 5th and 6th class localities. These are the same localities that are priority areas for the Aquino administration’s poverty alleviation and social development programs. The PCIJ, of course, is free to infer political motives, as it has always done in the past. But we would appreciate more research and less colored opinion next time.