MANILA – The House of Representatives may summon businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to its own probe once the National Bureau of Investigation concludes its probe into the alleged pork barrel scam, Speaker Sonny Belmonte said Tuesday.
Speaking to ANC’s Headstart, Belmonte said the House ethics committee will likely handle the internal probe.
Belmonte denied he is handling the alleged scam with kid gloves. He said he does not want lawmakers to grandstand since they are not trained investigators.
“As far as I am concerned, I welcome their investigation. I talked with [Justice] Secretary Leila de Lima and I said continue and do it vigorously and see that it is finished and in the meantime, I said the House will give full cooperation in that investigation,” he said.
“At some point it will reach the ethics committee but I would like the NBI, these trained people, these guys who are working without grandstanding and so forth, I want them to do their job and finish their job. I said give me the reports afterwards and if I see that there are inadequacies, we will take over,” he added.
In the interview, Belmonte said he does not know Napoles and has never met the businesswoman inside the House of Representatives. He, however, noted that he was not a congressman from 2001-2010, which is when the alleged pork barrel scam took place.
The Speaker confirmed that some contractors approach lawmakers to talk about the potential projects. Earlier reports said Napoles allegedly sent pretty girls to approach congressmen and entice them to put their priority development assistance funds (PDAF) into fake NGOs.
Belmonte also confirmed that at least 2 former congressmen gave their pork barrel funds to family-controlled foundations when they were still part of the House of Representatives. He named the 2 as former QC congressmen Mat Defensor and Nanette Castelo-Daza.
“At least 2 gave PDAF to family-owned foundations because it is allowed by the rules. I myself didn’t like it but the secretary of the budget at the time said that it is allowed,” he said.
Asked if he supports the practice, he said: “I would say no. It is always better to deal at arms' length.”
Belmonte said congressmen should use their PDAF in their own districts so the projects can be monitored by their constituents.
He admitted some lawmakers may not be aware of where the pork barrel funds go because they leave the task to their chiefs of staff.
“Some of them leave it to chiefs of staff to follow up. Some of them do have confidence in government agencies that receive the money,” he said.