10 senators sign Blue Ribbon report on PDAF scam
MANILA - Ten members of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee have signed the committee report recommending that plunder charges be filed against three of their colleagues for alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
An absolute majority of the 20 members, or 11 signatures, is needed for it to be formally adopted.
There is no deadline for the other senators to sign the report.
As of Wednesday, the signatories are committee chairman TG Guingona, vice-chair Serge Osmeña, Senators Chiz Escudero, Antonio Trillanes, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Grace Poe, Koko Pimentel, Loren Legarda, Bam Aquino, and JV Ejercito.
Other members of the committee are Cynthia Villar, Lito Lapid, Pia Cayetano, Ferdinand Marcos, Nancy Binay, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Ralph Recto, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Juan Ponce Enrile.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of the accused in the pork barrel scam, is unperturbed. The 2 other senators linked to the scam are Enrile and Bong Revilla.
"Okay lang," he said when asked to comment about the ten signatures.
He declined to comment about his half-brother, Senator JV Ejercito, signing the report. “Hindi na, no comment,” he said.
Estrada filed a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman denying him copies of the counter-affidavits of Ruby Tuason and Dennis Cunanan, among other respondents.
He asked that a temporary restraining order and/ or a preliminary injunction be issued against the conduct of further proceedings of the Ombudsman until the petition is resolved.
He said his constitutional right to due process was violated.
"It seeks to annul and set aside the order of the Ombudsman denying our request to be furnished copies of the pleadings filed by other respondents. Kasi hindi kami binigyan ng kopya ng mga counter-affidavits nina Mrs. Tuason, ni Dennis Cunanan at tsaka ng iba pang respondents sa PDAF scam," Estrada said.
"Sa palagay namin, the Office of the Ombudsman gravely abused its discretion and violated our constitutional rights."
Senator JV Ejercito explained that he signed the committee report with reservations, saying that he is not satisfied with the investigation's thoroughness.
He said that the investigation should continue to include other PDAF transactions involving other NGOs.
He said he is not for him to judge whether his half-brother, Senator Jinggoy, and his other colleagues should be charged for plunder.
"Bagamat may kapamilya ako, may kapartido, ‘yung mga kasamahan, syempre ako rin ay halal ng taumbayan. May pananagutan din ako. I was given the mandate so more than the responsibility to my colleagues, I am also responsible to the people who elected me," Ejercito said.
"Pumirma ako sa dahilan sa tingin ko dapat talagang magkaroon ng imbestigasyon pero talagang sa tingin ko ay kulang. Regading sa plunder case, the proper forum will be the courts. Siguro maganda na ring pagkakataon para doon sa mga akusado na idepensa ang kanilang sarili sa proper forum which is the Sandiganbayan."
Asked on the possibility that he incur the ire of Senator Jinggoy for signing the report, Ejercito said in jest: "Parang sanay na rin ako. Lagi namang galit sa akin 'yun."
'LET IT STAND ON ITS OWN'
Meanwhile, two other senators who signed the report is calling for the release of the affidavit of Janet Napoles and the list containing names of other lawmakers allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam.
Senator Chiz Escudero said it is not for any agency to "vet" the list, saying that releasing the list would give those being tagged the opportunity to defend himself.
Escudero dismissed talk that he was one of those named by Napoles, saying that he is used to being dragged into controversies. He reiterated that he did not deal with Napoles.
"Let it stand or fall based on what it says there. May halo mang katotohanan ‘yun, may halo mang kasinungalingan 'yun… Let the affidavit stand or fall based on what she said," Escudero said.
Senator Grace Poe said that for a name to be listed on the list does not automatically mean guilt.
She is also joining calls for the release of the list.
"Pagka nilabas ang listahan na ‘yun, hindi naman ibig sabihin na lahat ng nakalista doon ay totoo ngang kasangkot. Kailangan pa rin nating gawin ang ating trabaho upang siyasatin kung ito nga ba ay makatotohanan o hindi. Sapagkat natural lamang na magkaroon tayo ng duda dito dahil mismong nagbigay ng salaysay dito ay isang tao ay kasangkot diumano sa PDAF [scam]," Poe told reporters.
"Dapat ilabas na nga kasi lalo pang lumalaki ang duda kapag ito ay ikinukubli," she said.