Lawmakers in pork scam told to submit selves to probe
Lawmakers implicated in the pork barrel scandal should voluntarily submit themselves to an investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman, according to a group of former government officials.
Legislators have greater accountability for the disposition of public funds, even if alleged operators come up with the blueprint to pocket the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for personal use, said the Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO).
“It was their responsibility to ensure that their PDAF went only to reputable NGOs proposing priority projects and that these projects produced the promised benefits,” the FSGO said. PDAF is the official name of the pork barrel.
Five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives channeled some P10 billion in PDAF over the past 10 years to a network of bogus NGOs put up by JLN head Janet Lim-Napoles.
Whistle-blowers said the lawmakers pocketed up to 60 percent of the funds.
The FSGO said the use of fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) in disposing of the pork barrel should not have escaped the lawmakers’ attention.
“The senators and representatives who channeled funds to fake NGOs were not political neophytes. They and we were not born yesterday. Patronage of fake NGOs, particularly when repeated, provides grounds for charging culpable negligence, if not complicity in corruption,” the FSGO said.
The Ombudsman should investigate the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds and the senators and representatives should join the probe, it said.
“Our lawmakers should serve as models for compliance with the law. Only then can they have the moral authority to exercise oversight powers over the two other branches of government,” it added.
The FSGO also called on President Aquino to form a special committee that would review the PDAF process and recommend safeguards to prevent the misuse of the pork barrel. The committee should be composed of representatives from the budget and justice departments, and the private sector.
“It is time for the President and the people to prove that election to public office does not give officials a grant of impunity to plunder public funds,” it said.
The FSGO also noted that the pork barrel, which was meant for public good, had apparently done the opposite.
“Whatever problems it was meant to address, the PDAF has proven itself a cure more destructive than the disease. No benefit can possibly justify the crimes it has spawned and the systematic corruption of public institutions and officials it has promoted,” it lamented.
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