₱100 million DAP and Ilo-ilo Bogus - Senate Pres. Drilon Faces Plunder Case

A screenshot of Robin Padilla's Instagram post that urges Senate President Franklin Drilon to resign amid the DAP funds controversy.

Senate President Franklin Drilon is facing another plunder charge before the Office of the Ombudsman, this time for his involvement in the allegedly anomalous purchase of a 16.2-hectare property in Iloilo seven years ago.

Former Iloilo congressman Augusto Syjuco Jr. lodged the latest criminal complaint accusing the senator and his supposed cohorts of pocketing at least 60.5 million from the transaction.

Last week, Syjuco filed a separate plunder complaint against Drilon for allegedly receiving kickbacks from the 1992 construction of the Iloilo Justice Hall wherein substandard materials and equipment were used to build a structurally weak and dangerous building.

In his latest complaint, Syjuco exposed the senator's alleged hand in the purchase of a property in Iloilo City where residents living along the riverbanks would be relocated pursuant to the Iloilo Flood Control Project (IFCP) of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

He said the property owned by Marilyn Mirasol Inocencio was an unproductive agricultural land valued by the city assessor's office at 2,754,030 or just 17 per square meter.    

However, to boost the valuation of the property, the city assessor's office issued a new tax declaration on Jan. 24, 2006 that changed the classification of the property from agricultural to residential, the day before it was purchased.

"These manipulations of the market value for the subject property abruptly increased artificially its selling price to 81,001,000 while the assessed value also sky-rocketed to 6,075,080.

"In a worse and surprising turn of events, the subject property that was valued at 2,754,030 only a day ago, was renegotiated for a stupendously increased amount of 63,200,000 on Jan. 25, 2006 through a Deed of Sale signed and executed a day after its market and assessed value were arbitrarily increased," Syjuco bared.

"Apparently, the issuance of the new tax declaration was made to justify the overpricing, to the damage and prejudice of the government," his complaint read.

Syjuco said Drilon immediately released the amount to pay the landowner a staggering 63.2 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF.)

Drilon slammed the latest plunder case filed against him by Syjuco as a desperate and pathetic attempt to malign him by a discredited politician.

Just like the previous plunder charge against him by Syjuco, Drilon said that the latest case was baseless since it had nothing to do with him at all.

"I had nothing to do with the purchase of the land as mentioned in the complaint of Syjuco. It was the Iloilo City government which purchased that land. I had no participation whatsoever in the purchase of that land," Drilon said in a statement. – With Marvin Sy.

100 million DAP

Answering accusations that he was among those who received the lion's share of "additional pork barrel," Senate President Franklin Drilon on Sunday said he received 100 million from the Disbursement Acceleration Plan (DAP) but put it to good use.

"The 100 million, I received that…I requested for that fund under the DAP of the government so [Iloilo] would have additional infrastructure for tourism to boost our opportunity to host the 2015 [annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation]," he said in a radio interview.

The Senate President explained that the DAP, a lump-sum budgetary item introduced in 2011, was created because the government was being criticized for underspending.

"This is from the DAP which was created because of criticisms by economists that the government was underspending. Spending was weak that is why the [gross domestic product] at that time was low, at 3.6 percent against our target of 6 to 7 percent," he said.

Drilon, who hails from Iloilo City, said the fund after it was granted to his office went straight to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for implementation.

"Senator Jinggoy [Estrada] himself said that it was not a bribe. If it was used to influence [the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona last year], there is no logic to releasing it after the trial and conviction of Corona," he said.

Estrada, in a privilege speech last Wednesday, claimed that senators who voted to convict Corona were given an additional P50 million in funds "as provided in a private and confidential letter memorandum of the then chair of the Senate committee on finance [now Senate President Drilon]."

But Drilon pointed out that Senator Joker Arroyo, who voted for the acquittal of Corona, received funds from the DAP. However, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Arroyo's funds were released in 2013.

"Confidential man o hindi, ang importante ay kung paano ginamit," he said of the so-called confidential memorandum.

Drilon asked the public to listen to their side of the story.

"The release of funds does not necessarily mean that it was pocketed [by the official]," he said.

The Senate president said that to address such perceptions, he will push for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

"We will lead the reform agenda so there would be no doubts that if [a lawmaker] has PDAF, something questionable is happening," he said.

With report from philSTAR and IQUIRER 

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