A team from the Department of Agriculture internal auditor’s office arrived in Negros Occidental yesterday to investigate whether government funds released through non-government organizations for the implementation of projects in the first district were received by the supposed beneficiaries.
The Special Audit Office of the Commission on Audit has also conducted an investigation on P26 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of Rep. Julio Ledesma IV (Neg. Occ., 1st District) released through three non-government organizations between 2007 and 2009.
Provincial Agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan said a DA internal audit team arrived in Negros Occidental to investigate the dispersal of projects through NGOs in San Carlos, Calatrava, Escalante and Don Salvador Benedicto.
The team met with him yesterday as part of their validation task, Tabianan said.
Meanwhile, COA Special Audit Office Director IV Susan Garcia, in a letter to former Salamanca Barangay Captain Eriberto Baynosa of Toboso, said records of the National Agribusiness Corp. disclosed that P10 million in PDAF funds of Ledesma were released to the Kaisa’t Kaagapay Mo Foundation Inc. for the implementation of projects from December 2009 to April 2010.
Among the documents submitted by KKMFI to support the utilization of funds is a list of beneficiaries, which included the name of Baynosa, as among those who received planting materials and livelihood technology kits, Garcia wrote.
She asked Baynosa if he received 850 mango seedlings, 700 grafted rambutan seedlings and 90 livelihood technology kits (TLKs), which consisted of five volumes of books within the period December 2009 to April 2010.
The COA said 20 barangay captains from Escalante, Calatrava, San Carlos and Toboso were supposed to have received P500,000 each in seedlings and TLKs through KKMFI.
Baynosa, in a letter response to Garcia, said he had not received such seedlings and TLKs and his signature appearing opposite his name on the list of beneficiaries is not his signature. The purported signature is a forgery, he said.
Toboso Mayor Richard Jaococo said former Magticol Barangay Captain Florenio Escala, whose signature appears on the list of recipients, also denied having signed for such seedlings and TLKs.
Meanwhile, Lemery Barangay Captain Camilo Salumag of Calatrava, who was listed among the recipients who had signed for the release of such project implemented from 2009 to 2010, was reported to have died in 2007.
Eliseo Mariposa, whose name and alleged signature appeared as having received the P500,000 project for Barangay Tigbao, Calatrava, also said his signature was forged, and that he was not the barangay captain at the time.
In response to the COA special report covering 2007 to 2009, Ledesma denied his signatures in documents submitted by KKMFI in one project, but did not comment on two other projects and on the documents submitted by Farmers Development Corp. and Kabuhayan at Kalusugan Alay sa Masa Foundation Inc.
Dan Pondevilla, lawyer of Ledesma, said “the PDAF of Cong. Jules was given to legitimate government agencies.”
“If that government agency did not implement properly, then it is not our fault. That agency should be investigated and not the congressman," he said.
Contrary to media reports, he said, those funds were “not given to NGOs but legitimate government agencies.”
“We have no hand in how that agency implemented the projects,” Pondevilla said.*CPG