By Elmer Navarro Manuel
President Duterte was fuming “like a fire-breathing dragon” after reviewing the theme park project.
A former board member of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation revealed yesterday that NPF has been “mismanaged” over the years, noting its lack of an accountant and regular employees.
Maria Fema Duterte bared that some officials brought in their own people and charged “extravagant” expenses to the agency.
“The money of the foundation was used in a wrong way,” said Duterte in a televised interview Friday. “There’s no plantilla position and there was no accountant.”
Ms.Duterte, whose husband is a distant relative of President Rodrigo Duterte, added that some board members paid their drivers’ salaries and purchased laptops using Nayong Pilipino funds.
The ex-NPF board member has been at odds with the foundation’s other board members after other officials allegedly refused to implement her appointment as executive director.
She filed three complaints, including malversation of public funds, against the foundation’s officials before the Ombudsman.
In the same interview, she revealed that some NPF officials have accepted a sponsored trip to South Korea from Landing International months before the agency awarded a $1.5 billion casino-theme park project to the Hong Kong developer.
Citing official records, Duterte said board executives went to South Korea on 29 September 2017 upon the invitation of Landing.
“They were on a private plane owned by Landing, which invited them to showcase their theme park in Korea,” Duterte narrated, adding that the foundation’s officials returned to the country in October and a deal was reached on 7 Nov.
But she did not identify those who joined the sponsored trip.
“I don’t know if they received anything because I wasn’t there. I wasn’t in that meeting. I didn’t see or hear anything so I can’t say,” added Duterte.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the President was fuming “like a fire-breathing dragon” after reviewing the theme park project, which broke ground this week.
The Commission on Audit, on the other hand, said the project did not undergo proper bidding and it might be undervalued.