ABS-CBN reporter says she did not apologize to TESDA chief for a supposedly erroneous report linking him to the 'pork barrel scam'



PRESS RELEASE FROM ABS-CBN 


After ABS-CBN News aired on August 26, 2013 the first of a series of investigative reports on the pork barrel controversy—“Nasaan ang Pork?”—by Chiara Zambrano, several write-ups on Facebook claimed that Ms. Zambrano apologized to TESDA Director-General Joel Villanueva for a supposedly erroneous report linking the former congressman to the “pork barrel scam.”

ABS-CBN News would like to state for the record that:

The ABS-CBN report is not erroneous.

The report relied heavily on the Commission on Audit (COA) Special Audit Report which disclosed that the Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation Inc. (KMFI) got P4.8 million from Mr. Villanueva’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2007-2009 through the National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR). ABS-CBN also conducted field interviews in Negros Occidental which indicated that the projects funded were non-existent.

Ms. Zambrano read the whole COA Special Audit Report.

Ms. Zambrano did not apologize to Mr. Villanueva.

Below is her account about this incident.

ABS-CBN News Editors 


 

I did not apologize to ex-Rep. Joel Villanueva

 

On August 26, 2013, ABS-CBN News aired the first of a series of stories called “Nasaan ang Pork?”.

This series – running alongside other reports that detail the wider scale of the pork barrel controversy – sought to view the controversy through a smaller lens, by giving a human face to those who reportedly received livelihood assistance, but actually did not.

The selection of communities included in the stories were based on those communities identified in the Commission on Audit’s (COA) Special Audit Report on “the allocation and utilization of Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) and Various Infrastructure including Local Projects (VILP) under the appropriation of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).”

“Nasaan ang Pork?” Episode 1 featured two municipalities in the province of Negros Occidental— Toboso, in the 1s district, and Hinigaran in the 5th district.

In Hinigaran, the ABS-CBN News team went to Barangay Aranda, which, according to the COA report (p188-190), was among the barangays who were supposed to have received livelihood training kits from the Kaagapay Magpakailanman Foundation, Incorporated (KMFI). Speaking to the news team over the phone, Hinigaran Mayor Hermilo Aguilar and Salamanca barangay captain Molly Monares both denied having received any kind of project from this NGO. Aranda resident Haylen Apostol also denied knowledge of any such project in their town.

According to the special audit report, COA visited two addresses given by KMFI. One address led to a residential unit with no NGO signage and was closed at the time of inspection. Another address turned out to be the same address of a certain CC Barredo Publishing House, the same supplier where the NGO was supposed to have procured the livelihood training kits they were supposed to have distributed.

As of inspection time, the NGO had not confirmed its transactions nor submitted supporting documents to the commission. The COA report also says that in 2007-2009, KMFI received PhP 90.756 million from 2 GOCCs (NABCOR and TRC), which, in turn, got funding from 9 legislators, namely:


On August 27, the day after the airing of this story, I received a text message from TESDA Director-General Sec. Joel Villanueva. He drew my attention to Annex B of the COA report, wherein he was no longer among the legislators with unliquidated balances. Page 151 of the report says:


I acknowledged the information on Annex B, but told Villanueva that the story was about legislator-funded projects that did not seem to exist in the towns that were supposed to have enjoyed them in 2007-2009. He was among the legislators who gave funds to NABCOR in the amount of P4.850 million.

I also further clarified to Villanueva that he was not mentioned in connection to Hinigaran specifically, but in the operations of the KMFI as a whole. The Hinigaran livelihood project in question was reportedly funded by TRC, not NABCOR.

Villanueva replied by saying he was already in the process of checking their own documents and records they have on the NGO. He said, as God was his witness, he would never deal with fake NGOs, and hoped he was not deceived by the groups they had worked with.

Villanueva even told a story of how the Hinigaran mayor embraced him when he went to Hinigaran for a project, with pictures to prove it. But this was already in his capacity as TESDA director-general, no longer during his time as legislator, which was the focus of the report. And again, he was not even the legislator listed in the Hinigaran project.

We ended the text exchange with me saying that it would be helpful to both himself and the nation if he had evidence that would clear his name. The people, I said, needed something by which to restore their faith in the institutions of government.

But two days later, on August 29, it came to my attention that an “anonymous” write-up was circulating on Facebook – one that did not name names, but rather obviously referred to “Nasaan ang Pork?” Episode 1. The write-up was titled “REPORTER SAID SORRY TO TESDA CHIEF” and recounted how “An ABS-CBN reporter texted sorry to Sec. Joel Villanueva after making an erroneous report involving the former congressman and now TESDA chief to the recent pork barrel scam.”

The “anonymous” write-up said, “A mistake of not fully reading the entire COA report was the cause of it all,” and further said, “The apology came through text from the reporter but the DAMAGE of the said report through a nationwide television was already done.”

The write-up then went on to describe the Hinigaran project as featured in “Nasaan ang Pork?”

 

I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE 3 THINGS CLEAR


1) I did not apologize to Sec. Joel Villanueva.

2) The ABS-CBN report is not erroneous, and all information mentioned – save for interviews on the field – was based on the COA Special Audit Report.

3) I fully read the COA report, all 462 pages of it.

Attached are screen captures of the actual text conversation that transpired on August 27, 2013:


“ANONYMOUS” WRITE-UP RAISES SUSPICIONS

I texted Sec. Villanueva on September 2, 2013 about the “anonymous” write-up and he denied having had anything to do with its writing nor its dissemination. All he did, Villanueva said, was to issue a statement on the website of CIBAC, or Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption Party, where he is President (see screen cap attached). There was no such statement on the CIBAC website yet as of September 2, save for a general statement by CIBAC that says while they support the investigation on the pork barrel scam, the group believes that the pork barrel, when used properly, can help the nation. The “anonymous” write-up, however, was already circulating by August 29. (see CIBAC webpage screen grab below)


A look into the Facebook accounts of 3 of the groups/people who posted the “anonymous” write-up revealed varying links to the Jesus is Lord Church, a religious group founded and run by Villanueva’s father, Bro. Eddie Villanueva

Another Facebook account which posted the “anonymous” write-up belong to the Kristiyanong Kabataan Para sa Bayan or KKB Movement Fairview – Area 8 Chapter. The KKB is chaired by no less than Sec. Joel Villanueva himself.


Villanueva, however, reiterated that he had no idea about the source of the write-up, nor was he the one policing the content of KKB’s pages. When asked twice if he personally thought I had apologized to him, Villanueva texted, “Nope.”

Attached is the text conversation:



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