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Guingona not keen on resuming pork probe

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Guingona not keen on resuming pork probe

/ 03:25 AM August 19, 2014

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III: I think we’ve been fair. INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines–Despite the majority of Filipinos being unsatisfied with the Senate’s pork barrel scam investigation, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III is not inclined to reopen the probe as of now, saying the budget bill was a more pressing matter for the Senate to tackle.

Guingona, who chairs the blue ribbon committee, also defended his committee’s investigation following a Pulse Asia survey showing that one in every two Filipinos thought the probe was unfair.

“We’ve done our best and I think we’ve been fair to everyone,” Guingona told reporters on Monday when asked about the survey.

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He insisted that no senator was singled out for prosecution. It was the evidence presented that pinned down the lawmakers, who happened to be not allied with the Aquino administration.

Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla are detained on plunder and graft charges stemming from allegations that they had pocketed their pork barrel funds, using a network of bogus nongovernment organizations run by Janet Lim-Napoles.

“It’s the evidence that spoke for the case, the testimony of witnesses, the whistle-blowers,” Guingona said.

Last November, amid massive protests against the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), a lump-sum fund for development projects and a source of kickbacks for lawmakers, the Supreme Court declared the PDAF unconstitutional.

Asked if he would resume the probe since a lot of people were unsatisfied, Guingona said it would not be feasible for now.

“For now, not yet. We’ll finish the budget first,” he said.

As for the committee’s investigation of the alleged misuse of the Malampaya Fund—which some say was another potential can of worms—this would also come later, he said. He once again cited the budget deliberations, which he said have to come first.

The Senate is scheduled to begin its hearings on the proposed 2015 national budget on Tuesday.

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A Pulse Asia survey released last week showed that the majority of Filipinos believe that the Senate blue ribbon committee investigation was not fair because it appeared to zero in on those identified with the opposition.

Following the survey results, Sen. JV Ejercito called for the continued investigation of the controversy, noting that there were administration allies who had been mentioned in connection with the pork barrel misuse, but who had not received the same level of scrutiny as the three senators.

Estrada said he felt vindicated by the Pulse Asia survey, since he earlier complained about the alleged partiality of the Guingona-led investigation.

Estrada said the blue ribbon committee was used to demonize him, Enrile and Revilla and to convict them before the bar of public opinion.

He has been calling for the investigation of the Malampaya Fund misuse, saying that the delay was intended to protect administration allies.

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TAGS: blue ribbon committee, pork barrel scam, pork probe, reopening of probe, Senate probe, Teofisto Guingona III
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