MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Franklin Drilon on Friday said it was “highly improbable” that fake signatures of senators would pass through the fine-tooth comb of the Senate finance committee, the upper chamber’s clearinghouse tasked to process and track all pork barrel and other spending allocations made by its 24 members.
“Requests of this nature (such as pork barrel releases) from fellow senators are endorsed as a matter of course to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). I would only sign if it is in order after it is examined by the technical staff. I would have not signed it without the technical staff’s clearance that everything is in order,” said Drilon, who was the chair of the finance committee in the 15th Congress from 2010 to 2013.
Drilon made the statement to debunk the statements of some senators implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, specifically Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who claimed that their signatures were falsified on letters to implementing agencies endorsing the fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) belonging to detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad flatly denied Marcos’ claim that the latter’s signature was forged in the release of P100-million funds to the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) and to Napoles NGOs in 2011.
“That’s the senator’s contention but that’s not what our records show. He (Marcos) wrote Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile through Sen. Franklin Drilon on Nov. 23, 2011, requesting endorsement of his request. Then he wrote DBM on Feb. 8, 2012, requesting that the implementing agency be changed from DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform) to NLDC,” said Abad in a text message.
Revilla, who initially claimed that his inclusion in the pork barrel scam was part of a demolition job tied to his presidential ambitions in 2016, has tapped handwriting experts to verify his signatures on documents linking him to the Napoles NGOs.