Senators want end to Napoles scam probe

The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 16 2014 11:37 AM | Updated as of Mar 16 2014 07:37 PM

MANILA - At least three senators have called for an end to the hearings of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on the pork barrel scam, saying it has more than enough information to come up with a conclusion.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the public is already suffering from “PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) fatigue” so it is about time the committee move on to other issues.

“The logical step is to proceed to the other NGOs (non-government organizations) not related to (suspected pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim) Napoles. We have already obtained enough information to tell us how the scam was done,” Santiago said.

Santiago was referring to the special audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) where more than 70 other NGOs apart from those linked to Napoles were also found to have some irregularities on the use of the PDAF of legislators from 2007 to 2009.

“We should stop the Napoles aspect and go to the non-Napoles aspect of the case that will also answer the complaint of Senator (Jinggoy) Estrada that the administration is focusing on the three of them alone,” she said.

Estrada and Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile became the central figures in the pork barrel scam issue because of their repeated use of Napoles’ NGOs as conduits for their PDAF projects.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said all of the key witnesses in the pork barrel scam have been heard and the public has given their opinion on the matter, so it is time to allow the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan to do their job.

As far as the Blue Ribbon committee’s hearing is concerned, Trillanes said the legislative remedy has been incorporated in the 2014 General Appropriations Act where the PDAF has been abolished and proper safeguards on the use of public funds have been introduced.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano urged committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III to end the hearings.

He suggested the committee should move on to probe the Malampaya fund scam, which also involved Napoles.

Cayetano said Guingona should communicate with Estrada, Revilla and Enrile to get their inputs on the probe if they want to.

Guingona has done this through letters sent to the senators concerned.