Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said that immediately after receiving the Notice of Disallowance from the Commission on Audit (COA) on 18 August 2014, he directed his office to inquire from the office of the municipal Mayor of General Nakar, Quezon province why the release of the funds intended to assist a livelihood project was disallowed by COA.
Marcos was surprised when the COA included him in the said Notice of Disallowance, saying that as far as he is concerned, he approved the request of the Mayor of General Nakar to fund livelihood projects meant for poor farmers. Instead, the transaction amounting to PhP 10 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the Municipality of General Nakar was disallowed as this was purportedly undertaken without observing procurement and auditing rules and regulations.
On 19 August 2014, Senator Marcos wrote to the Mayor of General Nakar to inquire about the propriety or impropriety of the implementation of the said livelihood project.
The decision to fund the projects came when the Senator received a request for financial assistance from the Municipality sometime in 2011. The request to fund such projects is included in the menu of projects allowed to be funded under the PDAF pursuant to the 2012 General Appropriations Act or GAA.
This request, together with other projects proposed for funding under the Senator’s PDAF was submitted for review to the Senate Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office and the Committee on Finance for the endorsement of the Senate President.
Thereafter, the Senate President transmits these requests to the DBM. It is the DBM that determines the validity of the requests and projects prior to the issuance of Special Allotment Release Orders or SAROs. The DBM bases its evaluation on whether the requests for financial assistance are in accordance with existing DBM guidelines.
On 4 June 2012, the DBM issued SARO no. BMB-G-12-T00002502 to the identified implementing agency, the Municipality of General Nakar, Quezon province.
Senator Marcos emphasized that he merely requested the municipal mayor of General Nakar to tap the services of the Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc. (SDPFFI) as a co-implementor for the project, subject to existing and applicable rules and regulations. The request was contained in a letter of Senator Marcos to General Nakar Mayor Leovegildo R. Ruzol dated 26 June 2012. At no time did he direct, authorize or cause the approval of the disbursement of PhP 10 million to the SDPFFI.
“Whenever I endorse a request for financial assistance, I always remind the implementing agency that the release of the funds under my Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation for the implementation of the project should be in accordance with existing government rules and regulations. I could not have caused the disbursement of the funds since, as a Senator, I do not have the power to do so. Neither did I at any point have custody of or control of the PDAF funds,” Marcos said.
“Under existing laws, it is the DBM, thru the SARO, that is mandated to release the funds directly to the recipient and implementing agency which, in this case, is the Municipality of General Nakar, Quezon province. These funds do not go through me,” Marcos added.
While waiting for the reply of Mayor Ruzol, Senator Marcos also directed his legal team to prepare the appeal on the Notice of Disallowance issued by the COA for including him among the persons liable for the said disallowance.
“Definitely, this is devoid of any factual and legal basis,” Marcos emphasized.