The Ombudsman hinted of the ministerial role of the agriculture secretary in the controversy hounding the pork barrel projects of legislators.
Third District Rep. Arthur Yap has been dragged in the controversy, but only for his ministerial duty in relation to the projects coursed through the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR), one of the Department of Agriculture attached corporations, when he was DA secretary.
In a recent statement to national media, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, explained that it is the legislator who “exercises actual control and custody of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) share allocated to him”.
The national media quoted Carpio-Morales, saying “in a Congressional Pork Barrel System, including the PDAF, it is the legislator who exercises actual control and custody of the PDAF share allocated to him”.
It is clear that Yap, as then DA secretary at the alleged transactions transpired, was just performing his ministerial duty.
It is the reason why he was among those named in the case before the Ombudsman involving “former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino over the alleged anomalous use of the latter’s P15-million PDAF) in 2007”.
As then DA secretary, Yap has to be included in the case for the Ombudsman to be able to completely determine and settle the issues in the case.
Yap is named in the case not on the matter that he was part of how the legislators involved had actually exercised “actual control and custody” of their PDAF shares, but because he performed his ministerial role.
Yap clarified anew that he never contracted with any NGO and never implemented any PDAF project with any non-government organizations (NGOs).
Yap added that he never signed a single contract with NGOs and foundations when he was secretary of agriculture that some legislators and NABCOR dealt with.
All PDAF funds coursed through the DA were transferred to government agencies for implementation.
In fact, Yap did not authorize a single payment to NGOs and foundations and he had no direct relationship with them because he never deal with them.
It had been clarified already that Yap had no relationship with the foundations.
Moreover, NABCOR, as the implementing agency, operates independently.
As to the opinion that “the motions for reconsideration are mere rehashes of the issues and claims previously raised by them and already passed upon by the Office”, is parallel to the fact that the issues in the controversy also involve the same tone as those previously raised.
The recent PDAF controversy that hit the headlines is the case before the Ombudsman against “former Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino over the alleged anomalous use of the latter’s P15-million PDAF) in 2007”.
The Ombudsman recently “upheld the graft raps against Antonino over P15-M pork barrel fund mess” where Yap is impleaded as necessary party.
Two counts each of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation were filed against Yap, Antonino, National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR) officials Alan Javellana, Rhodora Mendoza, Encarnita Cristina Munsod, Maria Ninez Guañizo, Buhay Mo Mahal Ko Foundation, Inc. (BMMKFI) representative Marilou Antonio, and Carmelita Barredo of C.C. Barredo Publishing House.
The Ombudsman told the national media that Antonino, in a January 2007 letter, requested and directly endorsed to NABCOR and BMMKFI as implementers of his livelihood training kits project.
On March 22 of the same year, the BMMKFI- -through Antonino- -exclusively procured 7,275 sets of kits from C.C. Barredo Publishing House where each kit amounted to P2,000, or P14.55 million as a whole, according to the Ombudsman.
The national media report further stated that “the supplier supposedly delivered the kits in Roxas Boulevard the next day and were accepted and acknowledged by Antonino”; and that “actual filed verification showed that the projects were non-existent, as several Nueva Ecija local officials denied receiving any of the kits” based on the opinion of the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman also found that “there was no proposal supporting the project, physical and audited financial reports, monitoring reports or due diligence conducted in the supplier and NGO-selection process”; and that there was “no public bidding or any procurement conducted for the project”.
All the circumstances cited in the case obviously are outside the control of Yap as then DA secretary.