Jinggoy Estrada hits Guingona: Get on with pork probe
MANILA, Philippines–Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday blasted Sen. Teofisto Guingona III for his reluctance to resume hearings on the pork barrel controversy, saying it seemed after all that the latter was only after “cheap publicity” instead of the truth.
Estrada said the Senate blue ribbon committee, chaired by Guingona, could resume its hearings on the controversy if it really wanted to.
“If the panel is truly interested in arriving at the truth and instituting lasting reforms, it will continue to hold hearings anytime, get to the bottom of the issue and investigate even its own allies and party mates. Otherwise, it will throw every conceivable excuse—budget deliberation, schedule conflicts, gathering of more information, etc.—to justify its negligent inaction,” Estrada said in a statement.
Guingona earlier said he was not inclined to resume hearings on the pork barrel controversy for now and would rather focus on the 2015 budget.
This was despite a Pulse Asia survey showing that a majority of Filipinos view the hearings as unfair for seeming to focus only on lawmakers affiliated with the opposition.
Guingona has come out with a partial committee report recommending an internal purging of the Senate after finding basis to file criminal charges against three senators implicated in the controversy.
Estrada also accused Guingona of abandoning hearings midway, without arriving at a formal and definite conclusion.
He noted that the committee’s report on the pork barrel controversy was only a partial one. It also failed to conclude its inquiry into the alleged sexual exploitation of overseas Filipino workers by embassy and labor office staff, he said.
“The public can’t help but conclude that the chair is not after the truth or justice, only cheap publicity,” Estrada said.
But he said he was not surprised by Guingona’s position not to resume hearings anytime soon, since the hearings already got their targets—the three senators currently in detention.
Estrada and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla are detained on plunder and graft charges for allegedly pocketing their pork barrel funds.
“Is anyone surprised by Senator Guingona’s statement? No one. The statement was expected from the committee chair as according to him the purpose of the overly protracted investigation has already been achieved; i.e. for me, to see the three target senators in jail,” Estrada said.
Guingona earlier defended the hearings, saying the committee did its best and that it had been fair to everyone.
He denied targeting members of the opposition. “It’s the evidence that spoke for the case, the testimony of witnesses, the whistle-blowers,” Guingona said on Monday.–Leila B. Salaverria
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