MANILA—Sen. Francis Escudero on Friday said he plans to file a resolution calling for a new probe into the scam following reports that pork barrel mastermind Janet Napoles is now being considered as government witness.
Escudero welcomed the DOJ investigation noting that the entire pork barrel scam involved PHP14 billion but only PHP6 billion was coursed through Napoles.
“…Hindi ko tututulan ang imbestigasyon ng DOJ dahil nga humigit kumulang PHP14 billion ang PDAF scam, PHP6 bilyon lamang ang dumaan kay Napoles. Kakalimutan nalang ba natin yung PHP8 bilyon pa na nalustay din?” Esucdero said.
(“I will not object to the investigation of the DOJ because the PDAF scam involved the misuse of approximately PHP14 billion but only PHP6 billion passed through Napoles. Are we going to forget the PHP8 billion that was also wasted?”)
He has previously expressed his desire to continue its investigation even after plunder charges were filed against some individuals — including three former senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.
Estrada and Revilla are currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame while Enrile was allowed to post bail due to his old age and health.
In a list submitted by Napoles to the DOJ in 2014, she tagged nine senators in the pork barrel scam, including some senators belonging to the Liberal Party. However, only Revilla, Ejercito and Enrile were charged.
“Sa dinami-dami ng pangalang binanggit ni Ginang Napoles, ano nang nangyari sa mga kasong ‘yun? Nasampahan ba o hindi? Dapat sana maresolba rin ang mga kasong ‘yun. Hindi lamang para mapanagot ang may sala pero para malinis din ang pangalan ng mga nagkataong binanggit lamang at nadawit ang pangalan na wala namang ginawang mali o anomaly,” Escudero said.
(“With the long list of names mentioned by Mrs. Napoles, what happened to those cases? Were they charged or not? Those cases should have also been resolved. Not only to punish those accountable but also to clear the names of the people mentioned who have no fault or are not involved in any anomaly.”)
Escudero further said that some individuals and other fake non-government organizations should also be scrutinized to track down funds which have remained unaccounted for up to this day.
In a separate interview, Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said that any senator involved in the billion-peso pork barrel scam should be held accountable.
“I’ve always held the stance na kapag ginawa mo ang pagkakasalang iyan, kailangan ka talagang managot. Whoever you are, whatever your party is, kung ginawa mo iyan, kailangang managot ka (I’ve always held the stance that if you did that crime, you need to be accountable. Whoever you are, whatever your party is, if you did it, you have to be accountable),” Aquino told reporters in an interview.
Aquino, who is a member of the LP, said that the justice system could not be “selective”.
He made this remark hopeful that despite the acquittal of Napoles from serious illegal detention charges, this would not weaken the plunder charges filed against her.
“I hope it will not weaken the plunder case against her kasi sa totoo lang, the fact na nakakulong ang isa sa biggest masterminds o isa sa mga nagkasala sa taumbayan, isang mabuting bagay iyan sa ating bansa. Ngayong napawalang sala siya, it’s terribly unfortunate na nangyari iyon (I hope it will not weaken the plunder case against her because the fact that one of the biggest masterminds is in jail is good for our country. Now that she has been acquitted, it’s terribly unfortunate that it happened),” Aquino said.
“I think again, it leaves many of us scratching our heads,” he added.
On Monday, the DOJ said that the ongoing review of the pork barrel scam, which Pres. Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered, was meant to find out who else should be held accountable.