Is the pork barrel probe skewed?

By , on September 11, 2013

12 senators and 180 congressmen were included in the historical special audit report released by the Commission on Audit, stating that from 2007 to 2009, P6.156 billion of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund was given to 82 bogus non-government organizations.

10 of these fake NGOs are affiliated with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. Napoles, together with her political sponsors, was said to pocket the PDAF for personal gains.

As the Blue Ribbon Committee started its hearing on August 29, several involved senators have chosen to inhibit themselves from the probe. The senators who chose to inhibit are minority leader and former senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, actor Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos, former army man Gregorio Honasan, and Jinggoy Estrada.

Although they decided to excuse themselves from the hearings, they still expressed their support in finding the truth behind the misuse of public funds.

“I fully support the inquiry and all the other investigations into the matter. I believe the truth will surface in a fair and impartial investigation. Those truly responsible should be held accountable and punished,” said Revilla.

Revilla has hired Atty. Joel Bodegon to speak on his behalf since the Blue Ribbon COmmittee started its probe on August 29.

“Like any other Filipino, I also want to find out the truth in this controversy,” Honasan said.

Honasan also pushed for the investigations of other government-funded expenses in the name of transparency and accountability.

“Our people want accountability from the government. It is about time that every kind of fund coming from the government is scrutinized, ” explained Honasan.

Meanwhile, Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III conducted his own investigation of the COA report where he was also implicated. According to Sotto’s source inside COA, there was no reported misuse of his PDAF.

“Regardless of which NGOs were able to ask for projects there, as far as my projects are concerned… what is important is that they were delivered, there were no irregularities. That is what’s important,” Sotto

While some senators fully support the investigations, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who maintains his innocent plea, pointed out that his fellow minority members are being singled out and “ganged up on” in the recent investigations because his name, as well as Honasan’s and Enrile’s, was brought up many times.

“They precisely focused on the alleged bogus NGOs linked to Mrs. Napoles. I would like to suggest that they expand the investigation to include the other NGOs, the 74 other NGOs according to the COA report. We don’t know if there are others that are engaged in the same scheme,” Estrada called out.

“They are ganging up and focusing too much on the three of us. There are some colleagues of ours who are intent on repeatedly mentioning our names,” he said, implying that some of the officials in the hearing were too eager on bringing up the three senators’ names.

With reports from Marvin Sy and Ernie Reyes