Tags PNoy allies with questionable PDAF transactions
MANILA (1st UPDATE) - Senator Jinggoy Estrada slammed what he claimed is the persecution against him and two other Senate minority members who have been portrayed as the “worst thieves and scoundrels” in the P10 billion pork barrel scandal.
In his privilege speech on Wednesday, he questioned the partiality and objectivity of the Commission on Audit (COA), which has not highlighted irregularities in the disbursements of the funds of senators Miriam Santiago and Alan Peter Cayetano; former senators Manny Villar, Kiko Pangilinan; House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales and An Waray Rep. Florencio Noel.
“Mensahe ko ito sa mga tao: Sa bawat pagturo nyo ng mapanghusga at mapagkutyang mga daliri, apat na daliri ang nakaturo pabalik sa inyo,” he said.
The public should well know that “the Executive Department has used these releases as a form of rewards and incentives to secure legislators’ nod for their pet legislations and other political purposes,” he said.
He disclosed a private and confidential letter dated May 2012 allegedly showing “those who voted to convict [former Chief Justice] Renato Corona were given additional P50 million.” He also believes that pork funds have been used to get the Reproductive Health and Sin Tax laws passed.
“We do not know where these came from. Perhaps, [Budget Secretary] Florencio Abad knows where it came from,” he said. He claimed that the Cabinet secretary has been very silent since the pork scam scandal broke out.
He said the senators who have handled the Senate finance committees, which deliberates the budget, have had budget negotiations with the House of Representatives and DBM officials where “congressional initiatives or budget insertions” were tackled.
He said legislators get “over and above” the minimum allocation of pork funds worth P200 million per senator and P70 million per congressman.
COA chief’s travels, selective auditing
Estrada, who took the floor for more than an hour, blasted COA chief Grace Pulido Tan for allegedly being selective in its PDAF audit and in what she discloses to the media.
“Chairman [Pulido-Tan], gumising ka na. Mukhang na-je-jetlag ka sa kaka-travel,” he said. In the meantime, Pulido-Tan has been forgetting that the special audit her agency has done is incomplete, he said.
Estrada said “selective justice is injustice.”
He said Pulido-Tan traveled 5 times in 2010, 9 times in 2011 and 10 times in 2012. He said the COA chief has been conspicuously absent during several
Senate Blue Ribbon hearings, claiming that she had to be in New York where she was very much needed.
Estrada noted that during her first and only appearance in the Senate, Pulido Tan begged off when she was asked for the names of other legislators who had questionable pork disbursements.
“Gawin ninyo muna ng maayos ang trabaho nyo, tapusin ang pag-audit sa P69 billion na PDAF. Huwag munang bumiyahe,” he said.
COA’s special audit covered only the years 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Estrada took note that the special audit where he and colleagues Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla were named was incomplete. “Of the total P115.9 billion releases [pork funds, etc], COA was only able to audit P41 billion.”
“Why audit only P2 million for the district of Hermina Abad, P178 million for Niel Tupas, P197 million for P197 million for Isidro Ungab, P351 million for Alan Cayetano, P5 million for former Senator Mar Roxas, P3 million for Antonio Trillanes.”
“What makes us so special,” he asked.
He also cited House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, who allegedly made P6.6 million in Jollibee purchases.
“Ano ito? Hamburger, Chickenjoy? Langhap na langhap ang sarap," he said.
Estrada asked why Gonzales was not even questioned by COA. “Dahil ba miyembro ng Liberal Party? Nagtatanong lang po.”
He alleged that almost all of Gonzales’ pork funds disclosed in the COA report worth P275 million were disbursed for projects in Mandaluyong, but the suppliers of the projects that Gonzales chose are questionable or not existing.
He also noted that Gonzales’ ally, Florencio Noel, used P25 million for projects in Mandaluyong. He said P23.9 million did not comply with procurement laws, and P19.6 million had questionable suppliers.
'We are all victims'
Despite a more than an hour long speech, Estrada did not answer the allegations thrown at him, including his alleged connections to Janet Lim Napoles.
He said, however, that he and some senators “have consistently allocated part of our [priority development assistance funds] for the benefit of indigent patients in the Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, etc.”
Nonetheless, he said “the cry for blood and for heads to roll has added much intensity, but it seems impossible for those implicated to be given just and fair judgment.”
He said he received information that the current government investigation will only revolve around the Napoles NGOs, while the COA report disclosed more than 80 with questionable transactions. He said this proves further the politically-motivated sanctions.
“We all here are victims of a flawed system, which is so ingrained and that has been institutionalized. The recent events give us a chance to change the system and do away with the pork barrel mentality,” he said.