Whistleblower Implicates Two More Senators in Agri Fund Scam

MANILA, Philippines – A whistleblower has implicated two more senators and some congressmen in the National Agribussiness Corporation (NABCOR) fund scam aside from Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr.

The former NABCOR vice-president for finance-turned-whistleblower Rhodora Mendoza identified Senators Ralph Recto and Lito Lapid as among the lawmakers who allegedly endorsed bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) that implemented non-existent projects funded by NABCOR thru the Masaganing Ani program by the Arroyo administration in 2007.

Mendoza revealed a total of P65 million were pocketed by three questionable NGOs endorsed separately by each senator and lower house representatives involved.

The amount is part of the P300-million fund released by Arroyo for her agricultural programs.

Out of that amount, P40 million allegedly went to Kapuso’t Kapamliya Foundation Inc. (KKFI) via an endorsement from Revilla, Lapid, Recto.

The same also got an endorsement from former Bohol Rep. Roiberto Cajes, former Davap Oriental congressman and now Governor Corazon Malanyaon and former Southern Leyte congressman and now Governor Roger Mercado.

Another P20 million was cornered by Kalinga sa Kapwa at Kalikasan Foundation Inc. with endorsement from former Lanao del Norte congressman Alipio Badelles And former Batangas congresswoman Eileen Ermita-Buhain.

The Kaagapay Magpakailanaman Foundation Inc. endorsed by former Bohol congressman Eladio Jala got the remaining P5 million.

Mendoza attested she personally saw the lawmakers’ endorsement, allegedly bearing their respective letterheads, because it went through her office for processing after the approval of NABCOR president Alan Javellana.

Her lawyer, Atty. Levi Baligod, supported Mendoza’s statement saying the anomaly stemmed from the fact the NGOs were handpicked without a public bidding.

Recto, however, denied making any endorsement of any NGO to any of NABCOR’s project.

In a statement, he said, “The Ginintuang Masaganang Ani was a project implemented through DA and NABCOR funds. And, undoubtedly, we had nothing to do with it. Our office never wrote a letter asking NABCOR or any agency to consider an NGO in the implementation of a particular project.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Lito Lapid, could not confirm nor deny the allegation saying his office may have endorsed an NGO to NABCOR but could no longer recall details.

The senator’s media relations officer, Alex Marcelino, said Lapid’s office may have released endorsement letters to an NGO without checking its background because the volume of those requesting their assistance simply wouldn’t allow them anymore.

Senator Bong Revilla, who is out of the country for a pilgrimage with his family at the Holy Land, has yet to make a statement.

Representatives Malanyaon, Buhain, and Mercado all denied the allegations, while Jala said he will make a statement only when he sees the copy of the alleged endorsement.

The rest has yet to comment on the issue.