P4.8-M in irregular NABCOR disbursement returned, P1.6-B still missing

Published July 15, 2020, 1:52 PM

by Ben Rosario

Seven years after the abolition of graft-ridden National Agribusiness Corporations (NABCOR), only one  former official was able to return to the government a total P4.850 million in expenditures found highly anomalous by the Commission on Audit (COA).

But by COA’s reckoning, the amount is just a drop in the bucket compared to the over P1.6 billion in pork barrel funds that were disallowed due to irregularities allegedly committed by Congress members with the connivance of NABCOR officials and personnel.

 In a management letter released this week by COA, the audit agency disclosed that as of December 31,2 019, the total unsettled audit disallowances had reached P406.255.

The amount was outside the P1.274 billion lost by the government through non-existent and highly anomalous livelihood projects that 65 legislators initiated with the use of their respective shares of the Priority Development Assistance Program or pork barrel and other private individuals.

In the management letter sent to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, state auditors led by Supervising Auditor Amyryllis Barbara Almazan reiterated their previous recommendation to the NABCOR Technical Working Group for Financial Assessment to record the disallowances in the books of the abolished state-owned firm.

The Audit Team said this is vital in establishing the accountability to be transferred to the DA and “facilitate the collection of the receivables from the concerned persons liable.”

State auditors noted that the audit disallowances of P406.2555 that have become final and executory have not been recorded in the books of Nabcor which had been ordered dissolved in 2014.

The winding down affairs of NABCOR is being managed by the Transition Management Committee for the Liquidation of the Affairs of Abolished Government Owned and/or Controlled Corporations under the DA.  It is being headed by lawyer Francisco Villano Jr., DA assistant secretary for finance.

NABCOR was a government corporation primarily engaged in the production of livestock and agricultural products.

From 2007 to 2010, NABCOR became a conduit for the commission of massive fund irregularities in the use of PDAF allocated for congressional offices. 

Its abolition was ordered in 2013 by the Governance Commission for GOCCs.

COA lamented that despite the lapse of six years, there remained  a failure on the part of TMC and the TWGs to complete mandated activities to resolve all matters for the full liquidation of NABCOR’s corporate affairs.

“Moreover, the activities towards the closure of the NABCOR’s books of accounts, the transfer and de-recognition of its remaining assets, and the recognition thereof in the DA’s books of accounts were not yet undertaken.  Thus, the accountability for the assets was not ensured,” the audit body noted.