MANILA (Mabuhay) — A former department head at the Makati City Hall received 15 checks from the priority development assistance funds of Rep. Abigail Binay, daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, documents obtained by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV show.
At the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigation on the corruption allegations against Vice President Binay on Wednesday, Trillanes said Ryan Barcelo, former officer-in-charge of the Makati Social Welfare Development (MSWD), was listed as the “payee” on the said checks.
Barcelo said he recalls being a special disbursing officer when he received the checks, but said he can no longer remember if he got checks from the national government through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“I don’t recall receiving a check direct from DBM or [the] national government. If my memory still serves me well, lahat ng tseke na tinanggap ko ay nanggaling sa city government. I don’t know kung saan nanggaling yung funds na ‘yun,” he told the subcommittee.
Trillanes said the procedure “constitutes malversation” because the checks were addressed to Barcelo instead of the agency that he represents.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said Barcelo should explain himself before the Commission on Audit (COA).
“Sa COA ka na magpaliwanag… To be fair to you and to be fair to the congresswoman we’re not saying at this point in time na irregular, na merong ghosts or whatever, but what we find irregular is nasa pangalan mo ang tseke at hindi sa opisina ninyo,” he said.
Cayetano, meanwhile, noted that the checks were paid out on October 2011, a year before Barcelo was appointed as the OIC of his agency.
“What’s so special about Ryan [na sa ‘yo nakapangalan]?” the senator said as he noted that Barcelo is a relative of former Makati City administrator Marjorie de Veyra, one of Vice President Binay’s trusted officials when he was mayor of the city.
Barcelo explained that some of the checks were issued to his name because he was the assistant of the MSWD in 2011 and because the head of the department was also receiving too many documents.
Cayetano also grilled Barcelo about the number of senior citizens registered in the BLU card program of the city government.
Barcelo had said that since 2002, his office was able to delist more than 18,000 names from the original number of more than 88,000 beneficiaries of the program.
Arthur Cruto, head of the Makati Action Center, testified last week that some P367.5 million in funds for senior citizens in Makati City were missing due to “ghost” beneficiaries. (MNS)