Quantcast
Napoles
Latest Stories

Santiago proposes independent probe panel

By

Go on leave while an independent panel formed by President Aquino and made up of retired magistrates determines your culpability.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago offered this unsolicited advice to five senators linked to the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam involving a network of bogus people’s organizations and ghost projects set up by Janet Lim-Napoles.

“Out of delicadeza, the five senators should go on leave to erase any doubt that they might use their power or their money to pressure the investigators,” Santiago said.

She described Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Gregorio Honasan II as “persons of interest” who allegedly funneled a combined P2.358 billion of their pork barrel into ghost projects in exchange for kickbacks of at least 50 percent from fictitious NGOs set up by Napoles.

“I was not only extremely angry that they have sullied the name of the institution which I am associated with. I felt the bottom has fallen out of my world because of the amounts involved,” Santiago said.

Also on Monday, Sen. Francis Escudero filed a resolution calling for a “full-blown investigation” by the Senate blue ribbon committee of the allege misuse of pork—formally known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)—once the 16th Congress opens for business next week.

But Sen. Franklin Drilon, touted as the next Senate President, shot down the proposal, saying the probe was better left to the National Bureau of Investigation because the Senate investigating a case that involved its members would reek of conflict of interest.

Escudero, however, argued that “accountability and transparency dictate that this report be quizzically looked into … to show that neither sacred cows nor the notion of an ‘old boys club’ exists in a government working for change.”

He said the public perception that the PDAF was spent with “neither constraints nor accountability” was damaging. A senator is entitled to P200 million in PDAF every year and a member of the House of Representatives, P70 million for their pet projects.

Honasan

Honasan said he would rather wait first for the report that the NBI would file before heeding Santiago’s suggestion.

“In the interest of justice, fairness, transparency and public interest, any call for a leave of absence, resignation or inhibition among pubic officials mentioned must be considered only after all records of (special allotment release orders) from the (budget department) are made public (including) the local government units and beneficiaries,” Honasan said in a text message.

Prima facie evidence

In an interview with reporters, Santiago said the eyewitness accounts of and affidavits executed by whistle-blowers who had worked for Napoles constituted prima facie evidence against Revilla, Enrile, Estrada, Marcos and Honasan.

She cited Revilla who authorized the use of P1 billion of his pork barrel for 22 projects over the past 10 years.

“If the allegation is correct, he must have received one half of P1 billion, or P500 million. They are presumed innocent, but under our justice system presumption of innocence does not prevent government from investigating a complaint,” the senator said.

In addressing the alleged scam, Santiago said the main problem was to decide the body that would probe the five senators—the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice or their peers in the ethics committee.

“A senator cannot be impeached. A senator cannot be charged in the Ombudsman because under the Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over senators. A senator can be subjected to preliminary investigation by the prosecution service under the Department of Justice. But the justice secretary, being a Cabinet member, is always solicitous of the desires and wishes of a senator, for fear that they might concoct an investigation against her, or they might cut off her budgetary appropriation,” Santiago said.

‘Futile route’

She said the Senate committee on ethics and privileges might investigate a senator for improper behavior and might even impose the penalty of removal from office.

“But the empirical history shows that senators are loathe to investigate their fellow senators, much less expel their colleague. So that would be a futile route,” Santiago said.

Ameurfina, Flerida Ruth

She said that this would leave the President with no choice but to create an independent panel just like “the practice of the American president, who appoints a public prosecutor to handle the prosecution of egregious scams and scandals in government.”

She suggested that panel be composed of three members “who are beyond the reach of politicians,” preferably former Supreme Court Justices such as Ameurfina Melencio Herrera and Flerida Ruth Romero.

She said the most depressing aspect of the scandal was the involvement of former Senate President Enrile himself who granted the second-biggest amount of pork barrel to fake NGOs and “considering his (Enrile) posture that he is a legal expert and fond of the wisdom of the old.”

“He might be old but it has been (shown) he has no wisdom,” Santiago said.

Drilon said he would propose that the PDAF be used only for social services such as medical assistance for indigent patients and the construction of school buildings.

“It is best to let the NBI do its job. We cannot investigate ourselves because whatever the results would be, people would not believe it,” he said.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: fictitious NGOs , independent probe , Janet Lim Napoles , Miriam Defensor-Santiago , Philippines , pork barrel scam , Senate




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  6. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  7. Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  8. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  9. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  10. DOJ orders arrest of Cedric Lee
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
Advertisement

News

  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Classmates celebrating 60th birthday among missing in ferry sinking
  • Sports

  • Nadal passes clay landmark with 300th victory
  • Wawrinka waltzes through with Monte Carlo walkover
  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Business

  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement