ARROYO  ALLIES GET P45 MILLION IN PORK BARREL - HOUSE SOURCES

MANILA, September 3, 2005
(STAR) By Jess Diaz - After all the hard work in the impeachment proceedings come the just rewards.

Allies of President Arroyo in the House of Representatives have been trooping to Malacañang in the dead of night since last Tuesday to receive a total of P45 million in pork barrel funds.

The STAR learned from House sources yesterday that it is the embattled President herself who has been handing out budget documents covering the funds.

"There are two documents. One is a notice of cash allocation (NCA) for P20 million and the other is a special allotment release order or SARO for P25 million. You have to be there to receive them," one source said.

An NCA is proof that there is actual cash for the project. It is issued when the project is almost complete or is already finished and the contractor is to be paid.

A SARO, on the other hand, is a notice that a specific amount has been appropriated for a project. It is not a proof of cash. It is the document used by agencies to conduct bidding and is released months ahead of the NCA to allow agencies to bid out projects while revenue agencies are raising cash for the NCA.

Normally, it is the Department of Budget and Management that releases these documents to the office of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., where House members receive them.

For a corrupt lawmaker, any of the two documents can mean instant cash in millions in the form of kickbacks and commissions that contractors usually give in advance.

The sources said the President has been summoning her allies and defenders to the Palace in batches to give out the funds.

Among the recipients on Thursday night were congressmen from the Samar-Leyte provinces.

Mrs. Arroyo’s allies in the committee on justice killed all three impeachment complaints against her on Wednesday. The opposition boycotted the proceedings, complaining of "methodical railroading" of the petitions.

The President has been accused of using millions in taxpayers’ money, including P2.2 billion in collections from the road user’s tax, and appointments to government posts to dissuade congressmen from supporting the opposition’s amended complaint.

The brother of one Davao congressman who was rumored to be wavering on the complaint was recently appointed judge.

Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan was transferred from the Samar-Leyte region to Northern Luzon because one congressman from the Samar provinces threatened to sign an endorsement unless Palparan, whom he accused of alleged human rights violations, was relieved.

The brothers of two Muslim lawmakers were appointed to the Office of Muslim Affairs.

The brother of Mindoro Oriental Rep. Alfonso Umali was promoted in the Bureau of Customs, apparently to prompt him to withdraw his endorsement of the opposition complaint, the source said.

Umali is one of nine Liberal Party members led by Deputy Speaker Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III in the list of 42 original endorsers. He said he is not backing out and that his brother was promoted on merit alone.

Even some pro-administration senators reportedly took advantage of the impeachment proceedings to gain concessions from Malacañang, the source claimed.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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