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Philippines: Vocal DAP critic Bayan Muna Neri Colmenares also got P25M from fund

MANILA, Philippines-One of the most vocal critics of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in the House of Representatives was allocated the economic stimulus fund that the Supreme Court recently declared unconstitutional.
Documents obtained by the Inquirer showed that P25 million in DAP funds was earmarked for Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares. The funds were released in two installments over the past two years.

Colmenares is the head of the House Makabayan bloc, which is leading calls for the impeachment of President Aquino and supporting the plunder charges filed against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, believed to be the architect of the DAP.

The Aquino administration said it spent P142.23 billion in pooled and realigned savings from different government agencies to spur economic growth.

Shortly after the Supreme Court issued its adverse ruling on the DAP on July 1, Colmenares said the President could not invoke good faith behind his administration's "invention" of the DAP as he "knew right from the start that the DAP is unconstitutional."

Fully liquidated

In a text message, Colmenares said he was not informed of the source of the funds but he stressed that these were fully liquidated.

"I was not aware that projects I nominated were funded by the DAP nor did I receive documents that show these came from the DAP," he said.

The lawmaker said he proposed the projects to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

"I nominated school supplies and feeding projects for the poor to the DBM. I checked from the DBM if they funded the projects and they funded P15 million for hospital assistance and health kits under an item called Continuing Appropriations and not the DAP," he said.

Colmenares said local government units (LGUs) fully implemented and liquidated their respective projects.

He was supposed to receive another P10 million for a milk-feeding project in October last year. "I withdrew in writing my endorsement when I suspected it may have come from the DAP," he said.

Saros

Colmenares was allocated P10 million through eight special allotment release orders (Saros) released on April 14 and 17, 2012, a month before the Senate, acting as an impeachment court, voted to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona for not declaring certain assets, resulting in his ouster.

Colmenares was one of 11 House members who constituted the prosecution team during the Corona impeachment trial.

His peers in the group were Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., then Cavite Rep. (now Transportation Secretary) Joseph Emilio Abaya, Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariņas, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias Agabas and then Akbayan Rep. (now Dinagat lawmaker) Arlene Bag-ao.

Colmenares said he was not aware if the other prosecutors were asked to nominate projects and if these were funded by the DAP.

Projects

The first installment of Colmenares' DAP fund were for the following projects:

- P2.65-million subsidy to LGUs (Mexico, San Luis and Guagua in Pampanga province; Dinalupihan, Orion and Bagac in Bataan province; Guimba, Muņoz and Sta. Rosa in Nueva Ecija province).

- P2.5-million subsidy to LGUs (San Pablo City and Calamba City in Laguna province; Batangas City, Tanauan City and Tingloy in Batangas province; Cavite province; Antipolo City, Taytay and San Mateo in Rizal province; and Sariaya, Candelaria and Tiaong in Quezon province).

- P2 million through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

- P1 million in LGU subsidies (San Carlos City, Bayambang and San Fabian Pangasinan province).

- P1 million to Philippine General Hospital.

- P325,000 to National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

- P325,000 to Lung Center of the Philippines.

- P200,000 in financial assistance to Camarines Sur province.

More projects

The second installment of Colmenares' DAP fund worth P15 million, released through five Saros on Feb. 28 last year, covered the following projects:

- P10 million for the construction of farm-to-market roads in Barangay (village) Sua in Masantol, Pampanga.

- P1.8 million for two-classroom buildings in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo province.

- P1.5 million for a multipurpose building in Sorsogon City.

- P1 million for a multipurpose building in Baler, Aurora province.

- P700,000 for a classroom building in Tubigon, Bohol province.

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Bayan Muna solon doubles his net worth

A left-leaning lawmaker's net worth more than doubled in 2013, his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) showed.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares made his SALN public supposedly to show that he has nothing to hide as far as his wealth was concerned. He gave the media a copy of his SALN on Thursday.

Colmenares' SALN showed his net worth increased by about P1.2 million from just P1.006 million by the end of 2012 to P2.25 million by December 2013.

The party-list congressman made the disclosure ahead of the House of Representatives' planned release of a summary of all the House members' net worth based on their SALNs.

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Philippines: 5 Makabayan bloc legislators got P481M pork barrel

Documents from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last year showed that five congressmen belonging to the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives received a combined P481 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) since President Aquino assumed office in 2010.

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiņo received P85.4 million in 2013, P69.8 million in 2012 and P15 million in 2011. Former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano got P52.3 million in 2012 and P26.8 million in 2011.

Former Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino received P22.9 million in 2012 and P46.7 million in 2011, while ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio got P20 million and P50 million in 2012 and in 2011, respectively.

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus got P42.9 million in 2012 and P50 million in 2011.

Last year, the Makabayan bloc filed a bill scrapping the pork barrel system, saying that it was a "form of institutionalized patronage and officially tolerated graft and corruption."

Critics 'hypocrites'

In a letter to the Inquirer published on Sept. 7 last year, Casiņo called critics of the Makabayan bloc hypocrites.

In his letter he said: "It is no secret that from 2001 to 2004 and again from 2010 to 2013, we used our Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations to fund much-needed projects and services for our constituents. We believed that in properly and judiciously using the funds, we were doing our people a service. We never hid this from the public, as the editorial alleged.

Please note that none of our projects and none of our representatives have been tainted by any anomaly or corruption."

He added, "We are not afraid to lose the pork barrel. In fact, Bayan Muna and other progressive parties continued to fulfill their duties well when the Arroyo regime denied us the PDAF from 2005 to 2010 and murdered hundreds of our members and supporters."

The Supreme Court declared PDAF unconstitutional late last year.

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Militant party-list Bayan Muna is the first to receive 'pork' this year

Published on: Jan 15, 2013

The Department of Budget and Management has released P40 million in "pork barrel" funds to Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares, the first member of the House of Representatives to get his share of development funds.

Colmenares is the first and only recipient of a PDAF release in 2013, although the P40 million is part of DBM's backlog of disbursements of his P70-million allocation for 2011.

Last year, Colmenares and Bayan Muna colleague Teddy Casiņo received P124.7 million, of which P108.9 million was for 2011 and P15.8 million for 2012. This means that they had a combined balance of P124.2 million as of the end of last year.

The projects funded with Colmenares' P40 million include a P1.2-million water system in Barangay Tasilay, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur; a multi-purpose building costing P1.4 million in Barangay San Isidro, South Cotabato; two roads costing P2 million each in Marabut town, Samar; a P1-million farm-to-market road in Barangay Batuan, San Enrique, Negros Occidental; and a P5-million road in Polangui, Albay.
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The DBM has not released the bulk of the 2012 PDAF allocations of Bayan Muna and other party-list groups allied with it.

For instance, Gabriela Women's Party, which has two representatives, received only P43 million for 2011 and none for 2012.

Only P23 million was released to Kabataan for 2011 and none for last year.

Anakpawis, on the other hand, received P39.8 million for 2011 and P12.5 million for 2012.

As for Alliance of Concerned Teachers, the DBM released P20 million for 2011 and the full P70 million for 2012.