MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce-Enrile said he was ready to be “punished” if indeed he had committed any wrongdoing in connection with the alleged P10-billion “pork barrel” scam.
Enrile was among the senators, whose priority development assistance fund (PDAF) known as “pork barrel” was allegedly used to fund the non-existent projects of bogus NGOs owned by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
“Alam mo, walang dahi-dahilan, kung may kasalanan kami e di parusahan (No excuses, if we have erred punish us),” he told reporters on Thursday, when asked if he saw any political color that his name had been dragged into the controversy.
In fact, Enrile said it would be better if the issue would be investigated so that the evidence, if there is any, would be presented at a proper venue.
“It’s OK. For me, [if] they can investigate it, better,” he said, when asked to react to reports that cases would be filed against some lawmakers involved in the alleged scam.
Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who was also linked to the scam, expressed confidence that the Department of Justice would not file charges without any basis.
While he admitted that Napoles is an acquaintance, Estrada denied deliberately using his pork barrel to fund fictitious NGOs.
“I might have signed endorsements but I don’t know if that particular NGO belongs to her or belongs to a bogus NGO,” Estrada said at a regular forum in the Senate, reiterating that he had no business dealings with Napoles.
“It’s not for the senators to determine whether an NGO is bogus or not. It’s within the powers, the functions of the Department of Agriculture to determine if an NGO is bogus or not. Alangan namang kami ang masasabi na bogus yan. How would we know?”
“Even if we endorse a certain NGO, we will have no idea whether it’s bogus or not. It’s done in good faith. If we endorse a certain project to a particular NGO, iniisip naming accredited ng Department of Agriculture yun,” Estrada added.
Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, who was also linked to the scam, admitted that he was introduced to Napoles once or twice.
“I was introduced once or twice to Ms. Napoles, and have seen her occasionally in certain social gatherings. Aside from the customary ‘Hi’s and Hello’s,’ we had no other interaction with each other,” Revilla said in a separate statement.
He also dismissed as “malicious” reports involving his eldest son, Bryan, who is a business partner of one of Napoles’ children.
Revilla confirmed that he and Napoles’ sons were schoolmates in high school and that they went into a business of importing and selling rubber shoes along with some other friends.
“It is unfortunate that a legal undertaking between associates is being tainted with malice. Their business endeavor is legal and legitimate,” he said.
“I think that this malicious story is another attempt by some sectors to malign us. Kung gusto akong sirain, ako na lang. ’Wag na sanang idamay ang anak ko,” Revilla added.