By MALU CADELINA MANAR
KIDAPAWAN CITY – A poor grass cutter in a hinterland in Magpet, North Cotabato, got the surprise of his life when he received a summon from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for his alleged participation in the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam.
Efren Sideno, a job order employee of the Magpet municipal government, was included as one of the incorporators of Sagana ang Buhay sa Atin Foundation, an NGO based in Metro Manila run by Janet Lim Napoles.
Napoles, a businesswoman, is believed to have masterminded the diversion of the lawmaker’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to non-existent NGOs.
Sideno said he received the NBI summon on September 4 and ordered to report to Metro Manila to file his counter affidavit.
With no cash and no one to turn to, he sought help from Magpet Vice-Mayor Efren Pinol who helped him meet some NBI people in Davao City.
With tears on his eyes, Sideno told media he has no idea why his name was implicated in the scam.
When he tried to recall his supposed “connections” with Napoles, he remembered an incident which took place three years ago.
He recalled that a certain Lilian Espanol, his sister-in-law who is also a native of Magpet town working as househelp of the Napoles in Manila, called him up and asked him his complete name, birthday, and other personal data.
When he asked what it was all about, Espanol told him that Napoles was contemplating on taking him as one of her workers.
“But that did not happen. I was not given a job. I was not also given money. I was not also told about the NGO where I was taken as one of the incorporators. It was only when I received the summon from the NBI that I knew I was involved in the scam,” said Sideno.
Sideno’s last recollection with Espanol was last July when she arrived in their hometown to attend a birthday party of one of their relatives.
Residents of Magpet told media that whenever Espanol would return home in her place, “it was like a fiesta.”
Sideno said he is willing to testify in court to clear his name. He, however, lacks funds to travel to Manila for his testimony.
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