P200-M ‘pork’ missing — Audit

MANILA — Around  P200 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund  released by the Department of Agriculture from 2007 to 2008 to a non-governmental organization could not be accounted for, state auditors said on Thursday.

The 2012 Commission on Audit  Annual Audit Report of the Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College Rubber Estate Corporation showed that it did not carry out 24 recommendations of state auditors regarding the controversial PDAF allocation sourced from the offices of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, and Buhay party-list representative Rene Velarde. PDAF is also known as “pork barrel.”

The 84-page report was signed by Corporate Government Sector supervising auditor Merle Valentin.

COA said in its 2011 audit that the state-owned corporation transmitted the P199.68 million to its purportedly affiliate NGO Pangkabuhayan Foundation, Inc. contrary to section 4.4 of COA  Circular 2007-001, which requires the legitimacy and eligibility of a PDAF-recipient NGO.

COA stated that it prevented the transaction given the pending submission of ZREC of documentary requirements supporting the legitimacy of the fund transfer.

It required ZREC to have PFI submit its audited financial statements from 2007 to 2008, quarterly income tax returns for said years, organizational profile, complete project proposals, and “proof that PFI had an equity of 20 per cent of the total cost used in the project.”

The transferred PDAF was supposed to be used for the purchase of agricultural equipment and materials such as tractors, water pumps, composting facilities, and seedlings, COA explained.

Auditors said that ZREC failed to justify the purchase of equipment and materials “from suppliers which were very far from the location of the projects.”  They asked “why its corporate secretary was the one who prepared the disbursement voucher, purchase request, and abstract of bids and received the delivered items” contrary to Presidential Decree (PD) 1445.

COA also noted that ZREC failed to prove, by way of pictures, fund utilization  and inspection reports about the  PFI’s project.

“The current ZREC Audit Team issued a demand to [ZREC] management to comply/implement the recommendations and the information that non-compliance thereof may result in the disallowance of their transaction,” COA explained.

COA also noted that ZREC understated P1.76 million in taxes from 2009 to 2012 because it failed to subject the sale of its pond coagulator to three percent tax as required by Republic Act 9337. Around 60 per cent of the sale of   coagulators, or P7.2 million, was also paid to its partner tappers and small farmers instead of depositing it to its rural bank partners.

ZREC also tallied P1.14 million in unliquidated cash advances as of 2012.