Some senators to inhibit from pork scam probe

By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2013 03:26 PM | Updated as of Aug 28 2013 11:26 PM

MANILA – Senator Gregorio B. Honasan today decided not to attend the inquiry that will be conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the pork barrel scam.

In a press statement, Honasan said the Senate should focus more on the policy issue rather than put on the spot the different personalities implicated in the controversy.

Honasan, together with other opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, have been dragged into the pork barrel scam after their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allegedly ended up with questionable non-government organizations (NGO).

Enrile said in a press conference last week that he is inhibiting from the hearing.

Honasan, however, gave his assurance that he will fully support the inquiry as its main purpose is to push for new measures on how to avoid the misuse of pork barrel or to continue the plan to abolish it.

Senator JV Ejercito, another minority member, said that as far as he knows, some of his colleagues will not attend the proceedings.

"Sa alam ko may mga magbibigay lang ng statement tapos mag inhibit na," he said.

Honasan refused to name the senators but said most of them are still thinking of whether or not to attend the hearing.

"Kami pinag-iisipan pa kung magi-inhibit o hindi, syempre kapatid ko ‘yung isang nadadawit at mga kasamahan namin sa minorya," said Ejercito.

Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, the solon who filed a resolution for the Senate to investigate the scam, said it will be an individual decision on the part of the senators and said he respects whatever their decision may be.

"Hindi para sa akin ang pagsabihan sila, may sari-sarili kaming responsibilidad sa bayan," he said.

Escudero urged his co-lawmakers to allow the Blue Ribbon Committee to inquire with impartiality even if co-senators will be grilled.

"Bigyan natin ng chance at pagkakataon si Senator Guingona na maging patas sa magiging pagdinig," he said.

But a Senate majority member also expressed his intent not to attend tomorrow’s hearing.

Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla said he is inhibiting from the proceedings. He is also one of those implicated in the pork barrel scam.

In a press statement, Revilla said, "Hindi po ako maga-attend ng hearing bukas. Aside from prudence, I am not a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee to begin with," Revilla said.

"But I fully support the inquiry and all the other investigations into the matter. Naniniwala ako na sa isang patas at objective na pagsusuri sa kontobersiya ay lalabas ang katotohanan. Those truly responsible should be held accountable and punished."

Meanwhile, Estrada is suggesting that instead of the Senate or the Department of Justice (DOJ)-Ombudsman Panel, an independent commission should be created by President Aquino to investigate the pork barrel scam.

Estrada stipulated the probable composition of his proposed independent commission.

"Probably retired justices, members of the academe, business sector, civil society, the DOJ-Ombudsman, para may fairness and impartiality," Estrada said.

He is also suggesting that the investigation include pork barrels starting in the year 2001 to 2012.

"I’m sure maraming nabigyan over and above sa kanilang allocations," he said.