A super rip-off at TESDA

Thursday’s budget hearing before the Senate Finance Committee chaired by Senator Franklin M. Drilon laid bare before the nation the magnitude of the plunder pulled off by former TESDA director general, and now 2nd district Rep. Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco in the five years he headed the vocational-education agency.

Citing COA reports, Drilon revealed that Syjuco had funneled P100 million in TESDA funds into the Tagipusuon Foundation for supposed training activities to prepare young adults from Iloilo’s 2nd congressional district for high-paying jobs here and abroad. Not contented with that huge cash hoard, Syjuco’s wife, Judy, also transferred another P100 million of her “soft” pork barrel known as PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) into the foundation, also using TESDA as a conduit.

Where did the money go? Without any fear of being charged again for libel, the money was simply laundered and siphoned by Syjuco into their conjugal private bank accounts. There’s little to show for the P200 million that were earmarked for vocational training. In the past, I have documented transactions of the Tagipusuon Foundation in which a single transaction was paid twice or thrice, a clear fraud to fleece the public funds for personal profit.

The P200-million cash transfer to the foundation is just one of many irregular transactions that form the core of a corruption-ridden reign of the Syjucos in the 2nd district. Syjuco has clearly made a science of diverting public funds into his pockets, and he holds the distinction of being a topnotcher in terms of taxpayers’ money hoarded. He is the ideal candidate to test the Truth Commission that is still being challenged before the Supreme Court. His brand of corruption is the worst that best characterizes the plunder of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration.

There are more instances of brazen and shameless corruption. But Syjuco has long ceased to be ashamed. We saw how he spent tens of millons of pesos in taxpayers’ money to dance on television with popular singer Sara Geronimo. Ordinary men and women would have to be cajoled to perform on stage even if they had the talent to sing and dance. In the case of Syjuco, he danced like a moving coffin and his voice ruined the wonderful singing of Geronimo. No shame, indeed.

In the weeks ahead, I will resume compiling mountains of evidence against Syjuco’s corruption. I have filed several cases against him before the Ombudsman; in all cases, the Ombudsman behaved as if it were the defense counsel of Syjuco. The way the Ombudsman dismissed the charges, I was made to feel that I was wasting its time complaining about corruption. The Truth Commission is the only hope Syjuco can be made to stand trial for his crimes. And Thursday’s budget hearings will form the basis of the next plunder case I will file against him.

Footnote: Syjuco is one of the pillars of the present administration at the Iloilo capitol. During the inauguration of Gov. Arthur Defensor, Syjuco was given a place of prominence and shown every appreciation. Syjuco pictured himself and Defensor as the “forces of good” versus corruption. And the hacker/plagiarist sang paeans for Syjuco, calling him the epitome of clean government.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

One Response to A super rip-off at TESDA

  1. A congressman tipped me off this morning that former TESDA chief, now 2nd District Rep. Augusto Boboy Syjuco, will deliver a privilege speech today to hit back at Senator Franklin Drilon for the damning evidence uncovered during the TESDA budget hearing.
    Based on the title of the speech, Syjuco will once again resort to name-calling and below-the-belt blows against Drilon who disclosed that at least P200 million in public funds were siphoned by the former TESDA chief through his Tagipusuon Foundation.
    There is no way Syjuco can rebut the charges of corruption.
    First, there is clear evidence that Tagipusuon Foundation is nothing but a shell organization that he put up to fleece taxpayers’ money for personal profit. No one among the original incorporators are still connected with the organization. After all, they were dummies, with no real participation in its financial activities. The office address given in the SEC incorporation papers is No. 4 Rodriguez St., Sta. Barbara, Iloilo. That is the home address of Syjuco. On the House of Representatives website, Syjuco also proudly stated that he is the founder of Tagipusuon Foundation. No clearer proof can be obtained than this.
    Second, the foundation hasn’t disclosed its financial statements during the last eight years, notwithstanding the fact that hundreds of millions of pesos in public funds went into it. Nobody really knows how the money was spent. The name of the foundation stands for “from the heart.” But as Drilon put it, what Syjuco has done to steal public funds has been heartless.


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