Aquino eyeing Lacson to probe pork barrel fund mess
MANILA—President Benigno Aquino III may tap former senator Panfilo Lacson as an independent special investigator to look into the misuse of congressional pork barrel funds.
“It’s possible,” the President replied when asked by the Philippine Daily Inquirer during a visit to flood victims in Imus, Cavite, if he would appoint Lacson as special investigator to probe into alleged diversion to private pockets of pork barrels funds of both house of Congress.
But Aquino clarified that the matter was still under study as the Department of Justice was already investigating the P10-billion pork barrel scam involving businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Aquino disclosed that there is a little-known Interagency Anti-Graft and Corruption Council composed of the Office Ombudsman, DOJ and Commission on Audit that are “working together” to build up cases against crooks in government.
“And I think [there is an existing] mechanism in government … that has been established … to tackle this kind of situation,” he said of the council.
On Lacson’s role in his Cabinet, Aquino said he was “open” to suggestions to give the former senator, who is also a political ally, a prominent role in the anticorruption drive of his administration, starting with the prosecution of lawmakers who channeled their Priority Development Assistance Fund to bogus people’s organizations over the past 10 years.
“Well, we’re open [to the idea] but we are waiting for the proposed executive order [which is] undergoing study by the executive secretary. I’m still awaiting the findings” of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, the President added.
Aquino noted that much has happened since the proposal was submitted to the Palace by Lacson.
“The rains, the PDAF case—many things have happened. I will follow it up with the executive secretary since the proposal of Senator Lacson has been pending for quite some time,” said Aquino.
Lacson, who ended his second consecutive term as senator last June 30, submitted a draft executive order creating an anti-corruption body that he would head.
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano told the media that Lacson was the best person to handle the pork barrel investigation “because of his impeccable record against corruption and his unwavering stand against the pork barrel.”
Both former senators Lacson and Joker Arroyo spurned the use of their PDAF allocations.
But Cayetano apparently wants Lacson to be appointed by the Senate, not Malacañang.
Cayetano said that he has drafted a resolution recommending that Lacson be appointed to help in the inquiry to be conducted starting next week by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.
Cayetano said that Lacson could ensure that the inquiry into the use of PDAF would be “effectively and credibly” conducted in light of allegations that five senators and 23 congressmen were involved in a P10-billion scam and findings by the Commission on Audit of “appalling” misuse of congressional pork barrel funds.
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