PRESIDENTIAL candidate Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson intends to avoid cases of non-government organizations (NGO) being used as dummy entities to extract public funds from the national government, which led to a corruption scandal that erupted in 2013 involving detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
A discussion on this topic was brought up during the town hall meeting Lacson held on Friday (April 22) at the Ynares Center on the sidelines of his campaign activities in Antipolo City, Rizal. One participant representing the youth sector asked the public servant if it is possible for their NGO to get financial support from his government to help them implement their planned community projects.
“Baka hindi ma-justify ‘yung pondo ng gobyerno papunta sa isang NGO. Alam niyo diyan maraming naimbestigahan noong si Napoles nagkaroon ng kaso kasi ginamit nila private na NGO,” Lacson replied to the young woman, who identified herself as a member of the Phase 2B Youth Movement based in San Luis, Antipolo City.
Napoles has been dubbed as ‘pork barrel queen’ by the media for allegedly masterminding the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, which incriminated several politicians. She remains in detention after the Sandiganbayan found her guilty of plunder, graft and malversation of public funds, according to reports.
“Mahirap, kasi public funds, hindi pwedeng lumipat ito sa isang private organization. Kami po nagiging matapat sa inyo. Madali lang sabihin, ‘sige, gagawin natin.’ Pero kung alam naman nating hindi pwede at labag sa batas kasi baka hindi pumasa sa COA (Commission on Audit),” Lacson explained.
The presidential candidate instead offered his proposed paid internship program for the financially challenged members of the youth sector, who wanted to pursue college education and provide for their families at the same time. Lacson said this program can help build professional connections for the youth who want to develop careers in different fields in both the private and public sectors.
“Pwede kayong tanggapin sa mga pribadong tanggapan o kaya sa government offices. Ang tawag doon paid internship program. Habang kayo nag-aaral, parang nag-i-internship na kayo pero may sweldo, may allowance. ‘Yon po ‘yung pwede nating gawin. Pero sa isang private NGO para suportahan ngpublic funds medyo mahirap po ‘yon,” Lacson said.
Lacson also advised the youth leader that she may consider linking up with big private corporations, which have ongoing corporate social responsibility projects, to seek financial support. He said this kind of arrangement is the one authorized by our existing laws, which is already being practiced by organizations like the Ayala Foundation and SM Foundation.
“Kailangan lamang gumawa kayo ng isang request, at kung accredited ang inyong NGO, pwede ‘yan—private-to-private. Ino-authorize ‘yan kasi ang kanila namang benefit, kapag sila’y gumastos ng kanilang corporate social responsibility (activities), tax-free ‘yon. Hindi sila sisingilin, parang tax deductible,” according to the senator.
Lacson added that the only way for an NGO to have its programs financed through public funds is if the organization itself would yield its proposed projects through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to a national government agency, which would execute them on its behalf. But the very idea of requesting taxpayers’ money for an NGO-led project is out of the question.
“Mag-mo-MOA para i-co-course ‘yung budget through that national agency, tapos ‘yung national agency ang magsasagawa ‘nung kung ano man ‘yung proyekto ninyo, pero hindi pwedeng ma-transfer ‘yung pondo papunta sa inyong NGO. Pero ‘yung project pwedeng isagawa ‘nung national agency, ang makikinabang ‘yung proyekto ng NGO na pinili ninyo. ‘Yan po ‘yung pwedengprocedure,” Lacson said.