Chiz denies getting pork barrel in 2005
By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Francis Escudero denied receiving his pork barrel allocation from Malacañang while serving as representative of the first congressional district of Sorsogon in 2005.
“I did not receive any pork barrel that they say was worth P130 million. If it was released then my constituents in the first district would know,” Escudero told employees and officials of the Commission on Appointments (CA) during a flag raising ceremony last Monday.
Escudero surmised that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocated under his name might have formed part of the multi-million fertilizer fund scam that was investigated by the Senate that implicated former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante.
Escudero made the remark in reply to allegations that he did not do anything for Sorsogon during his term as congressman of the province despite receiving his pork barrel allocation.
There were even allegations that Escudero received the pork barrel funds even while leading opposition congressmen in the impeachment effort against President Arroyo.
The allegations stemmed from figures sourced from the website of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that detailed how Escudero supposedly received the funds.
The website also outlined the projects in Escudero’s district that were supposedly funded by the PDAF.
“The truth of the matter is that we were literally begging for the government to release the funds. Bicol was left devastated by two powerful typhoons, ‘Reming’ and ‘Milenyo’ at that time,” Escudero said.
Escudero described the figures in the DBM website as “misleading.”
He said the figures were based only on the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO), not on the actual release of the PDAF.
In a separate radio interview, Escudero said this was not the first time that he did not receive the funds that were purportedly released under his name.
He said that during the height of the fertilizer fund scam, even the affluent congressional districts represented by Rep. Teodoro Locsin were included in the supposed recipients.
“In my case, it was indicated there (in the list) that the first district of Sorsogon was among the recipients. Even the district represented by Locsin was included but this was also denied by Locsin,” he said.
Escudero said the funds might have been released to the local officials on his behalf. “But of course, the records showed it was released for the first district of Sorsogon,” he said.
Escudero said the allegations formed part of a campaign to politically discredit him.
The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) had defended Escudero from the allegations, pointing out Malacañang virtually marginalized him when he was serving as Sorsogon congressman.
Fellow Bicolano lawmaker Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte also defended Escudero, saying the allegations were part of the campaign to discredit the senator who is a possible candidate in the 2010 presidential race.