CONGW. MARICAR DEFENDS HER PA WAY KURAT ON P3 B PORK, ISSUES STATEMENT

aug 22-28, 2013

Compostela Valley 1st District Congresswoman Maricar Zamora issued Tuesday, Aug. 20, a strongly worded statement to defend her beleaguered father ex-Cong. and Vice Governor Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora, whom she said has been unfairly implicated by the “incompetence” of the Commission on Audit, which lumped all the P3 billion pork barrel in one SARO only to Way Kurat.

“ANG MALAKING PAGKAKAMALI SA PAGBILANG NG COA
Public Statement of Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora
20 August 2013
“The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it.
Let it loose. It will defend itself.”~ St. Augustine

Dear Friends, Colleagues and the Honorable Public,

In light of recent intrigues that my father, former three-term Representative, now Compostela Valley Vice-Governor, Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora, received the incredible amount of more than P3 billion in 2007, I issue this statement to defend the honor of my father and the House of Representatives, both of whom have been dragged into a controversy not of their own making. The uproar is based on the recently released Commission on Audit Report No. 2012-03.

Though bruised by the hurtful story, but never unbowed, my father, Way Kurat, is not a bit disturbed at all. In fact, the first thing he did was to write both COA Commissioner Grace Pulido-Tan and DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson for documents. He asked COA for copies of the documents that were the basis of their report, and he also asked DPWH for all records that should show the status of implementation, and the supporting documents for the alleged P3B funding. While he was doing his own research, former DBM Secretary, now Cong. Rolando Andaya, Jr., came out in an interview with radio station DZBB, saying that Way Kurat is a victim of a clerical error in this mess. Cong. Andaya’s critical take is this: He says that the existence of the P3-B SARO is NOT at issue, but attributing it ALONE to Way Kurat IS. [You can follow this link for media coverage of Rep. Andaya’s interview: http://www.interaksyon.com/article/68818/p3-b-pork-puzzle–way-kurat-apparent-victim-of-clerical-error-says-ex-dbm-chief%5D

The lion of truth here is that NO SUCH ALLOCATION WAS EVER ISSUED TO WAY KURAT. Incumbent DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Jr., on his own, checked DBM records. He reported to us that Way Kurat is not to be faulted in this COA nonsense. In fact, Sec. Butch informed no less than President Noynoy Aquino that the P3B SARO COA attributed to Way Kurat is erroneous. Sec Butch found that TWO SAROs were issued bearing only ONE SARO number (A-07-09539):
a) one SARO was dated December 10, 2007, for P500,000 and addressed to the DPWH-Davao del Norte District Engineering Office to complete a Multi-Purpose Building at the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City, which should rightly be attributed to Way Kurat, and b) the other SARO was dated December 11, 2007, in the amount of P3B for DPWH Central Office for Preventive Maintenance of National Roads with a program of nationwide maintenance projects.

So that the public may know, that P3B went to ALL of the nation’s national roads through the DPWH, and not through my father’s office, not through our humble district, and NEVER to our pockets. You can follow this link to hear how even the DPWH has traced the controversial SARO number: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/video/174125/stateofthenation/dating-rep-way-kurat-zamora-itinangging-nakatanggap-na-p3b-pork-barrel; Interaksyon, in this link, broke the news of the clerical error committed by COA: http://www.interaksyon.com/article/68999/p3-billion-mistake–dbm-to-admit-clerical-error-over-rep–way-kurat-zamoras-bloated-pdaf, while GMA News broke the story on national television: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkgSZCLX7Ww

Even as I am certain that the truth will bear us out, as a daughter, I have been deeply hurt by the carelessness in the preparation, handling and dissemination of this report. My father was never notified of the audit, nor did the COA even attempt to coordinate its audit through my office—even though it is no secret that I am my father’s successor. The way this story has been reported without regard for what the data meant was ruthlessly damaging: “COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan, in making a case that the entire PDAF system was found to be porous, inefficient, and prone to graft and corruption, singled out, at one point of her presentation, the example of how one congressman supposedly had access to as much as P3-billion in pork barrel fund during the audited years.” [InterAksyon.com post “P3-BILLION ‘MISTAKE’ | DBM to admit ‘clerical error’ over Rep. ‘Way Kurat’ Zamora’s bloated PDAF” August 20, 2013 4:59 PM]

The “one congressman” COA Commissioner Tan singled out was my father, without any distinction as to what the PDAF was against the VILP, and most grievous of all, with no verification ever made. Everybody on social media lashed out; worse, media went on further with irresponsible reporting. Some media personalities asked residents here in Compostela Valley kung naramdaman ba nila na umabot sa kanila ang pondo—paano nga ba naman nila mararamdaman? If my own father was unaware of this funding, how much less would the ordinary Comvalenyo be?

The public, thirsty for blood, howled for my father’s head, all because COA issued a report without bothering to check its facts and records. Was the report issued to muddle current issues, to attack Congress? I can’t help but speculate, as we are helpless against the wave of anger over the misinformation. Ang pangalan na aming inalagaan ng buong buhay namin, nasira sa publiko sa isang iglap, dahil sa maling pagbalita ng COA. We spent years and our lives to real public service through transparent governance and consultative leadership, and not by wanton use of public funds. Ang tatay ko po kahit ang sariling damit na suot, ibibigay sa kahit sinong humingi nito sa kanya, ay pinaratangan nang pagbulsa ng tatlong bilyong piso. Ang kanyang mga apo—my sons—are now the objects of unwarranted anger and bullying, dahil inaakalang tinamasa nila ang katas nang pondong iyan.

All this pain and suffering has been brought upon our family because of COA’s ignorance and blunder. Even when my father is vindicated, our family will forever be unjustly associated with blind and baseless allegations of misuse of public funds. The damage has been done, and no amount of auditing and rectification by the COA can ever truly repair the humiliation, anguish and suffering our family has gone through because of its incompetence.

The greatest error here, is that COA, an institution which we are supposed to trust, has made a mistake so grievous as to show itself to be incompetent in releasing unverified and inaccurate reports. To wit, if COA could RELEASE a report in which it itself states that it never got around to securing ALL the necessary documentation, a report in which it could make such a glaring clerical error in wrongly attributing P3 billion to my father, how many more mistakes could be in that audit report? Where do we start finding out which is wrong, and which is not? Instead of a chance to find out the truth, all we have now is a cesspool of errors, mistakes, missing documents that may or may not have been issued just to malign Congress and the PDAF system. In the greater context we agree that the PDAF and its implementation always has room for improvement, but a witch-hunt founded on baseless investigation is not going to be of any help. No less than 21 auditors signed that report – did any of them bother to really check and truly explain why they were issuing such an incomplete report?

The COA is thus not infallible: its credibility and its role in the system of checks and balances is something I now deeply question. Former DBM Chief Rolando Andaya, Jr., and current DBM Secretary Butch Abad have both already debunked the COA report, and we patiently await the COA’s recognition and admission of its own mistake. This will at least right a wrong so grievously committed against my father and the House of Representatives as an institution. I am exceedingly grateful that the DBM Secretaries and even the Honorable Speaker Sonny Belmonte have all come forward to help clear Way Kurat’s name.

This scandal has wrongfully deflected our focus from the more compelling and warranted issues, all of which highlight the need for greater fiscal governance and accountability. Even so, we will continue our work, and we will let it speak for itself—rather than the tall tales of a careless auditor. The public and the Filipino people deserve no less than a true accounting of what happened from the autonomous body that holds us, as public employees and servants, accountable for what we do. I have every faith that truth shall prevail, and it will set all of us free.”

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