MANILA - Three former Cabinet secretaries have asked former and incumbent lawmakers to disclose where they assigned their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
“We should not assume that all legislators used funds intended for the benefit of their constituents and the country to serve personal interests,” read a statement of Former Senior Government Officials on the Facebook page of Change.org.
“Wholesale condemnation of all legislators, even without concrete evidence of corruption despite the principle that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, erodes public confidence in our political institutions,” added the statement.
The names of former education undersecretary Isagani Cruz, former education secretary Edilberto de Jesus and former environment secretary Fulgencio Factoran Jr. were listed as signatories of the statement.
“The people have the right to know how government money is being spent,” according to the statement. “Transparency on PDAF transactions will help persuade our people that the government is capable of reforming itself.”
The group also reiterated their call to the Office of the Ombudsman to file charges against officials who betrayed public trust. It earlier filed a petition before Change.org asking the ombudsman to conduct an impartial investigation on the PDAF scam.
“Our lawmakers should serve as models for compliance with the law. Only then can they have the moral authority to exercise oversight powers over the two other branches of government,” read the petition, which was also supported by former finance secretary Jesus Estanislao and former senator Vicente Paterno.
More than 2,000 netizens signed a petition asking Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to release the affidavit of Janet Lim-Napoles, including the supposed list of officials allegedly involved in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
“Despite repeated calls to release such information to the public, you have refused to do so, citing various reasons,” the petition filed by #ScrapPork network read. It has over 2,400 supporters as of yesterday afternoon.
“The people’s right to information is constitutionally guaranteed, must be held paramount, and must not be undermined by mere speculation,” it added. “The people have the right to the unaltered details.”
They said delaying the release of information would only cast doubt on the actions of the DOJ. “We express hopes that public support for your good work will increase; for a fair, impartial and timely handling of the PDAF scam. Undeniably, clamor for disclosure of the Napoles list is growing and will continue to grow,” they said.
The #ScrapPork network noted that people are clamoring for transparency and accountability, and are hungry for justice.
“Madam Secretary, as a public servant of the Filipino people, we enjoin you to make available any and all information which Mrs. Napoles relayed to you in relation to the PDAF scam. Be the true representation, the personification of the government agency through which you serve the Filipino citizenry,” it said.
The petitioners said the information provided by Napoles also requires closer scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) held a protest in front of the DOJ over what they described as “Palace-directed cover-up” of the pork barrel scam.
“The non-disclosure of the Napoles list, as ordered by Malacañang, is intended to protect the Aquino administration and its allies from the people’s demand to widen the probe of the pork scam and hold accountable even the allies of the President. Malacañang has resorted to claiming there are several lists whose contents are doubtful. It is an elaborate scheme to confuse the public and protect the beneficiaries of the pork scam,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said.
Bayan said the two Napoles lists are similar to the tale of two tapes during the “Hello Garci” scandal.
“The public demand is clear and simple. Make public the list and investigate and prosecute those who are involved in the scam. Prolonging the release of the list only fuels suspicion that various parties are engaging in maneuvers and horse-trading. Everyone wants to cover up something, while the public is left to wonder when justice will eventually be served,” he said. – With Rhodina Villanueva, Evelyn Macairan