Ex-Solon uncovers new scam using IRA funds

Manila, Philippines --- The Antoninos of Nueva Ecija raised alarm yesterday over a new scam that utilizes unliquidated funds from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of local government units (LGUs).

Former Nueva Ecija 4th District Rep. Rodolfo Antonino said that like the R10-billion pork barrel scam involving legislators' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the money in the "IRA scam" is also coursed through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that apparently don't exist.

"While we are all focused on the pork barrel (scam), I think we should not forget that IRA is a form of pork barrel," the three-term solon told reporters in a press conference in the House of Representatives (HoR).

An LGU's primary source of funds comes from its IRA, which is its share of revenues from the national government. The amounts vary from one LGU to another.

Antonino, who was accompanied by his daughter and successor, Rep. Magnolia Antonino-Nadres, said evidence of an IRA scam were contained in the 2012 annual Commission on Audit (COA) reports of the municipalities of San Antonio, San Leonardo, Quezon and Gapan City, all in Nueva Ecija.

"There are findings of paid disbursements from the IRA funds of the municipality made to different individuals and companies with no or incomplete documentation indicating that this may be a bogus transaction or an IRA-funded scam," he said.

"As we see it, there are abuses to the IRA. These may be smaller amounts in the hundreds of thousands of pesos only, but the R10 billion is just a pittance given the potential nationwide abuse of these IRA-funded scams."

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