Estrada hits peers; silent on charges
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada on Wednesday blasted the Commission on Audit, the media, and fellow lawmakers for turning a blind eye to the alleged misuse of the pork barrel allotments of other lawmakers but failed to clear his name in the raging controversy.
In a privilege speech, Estrada resorted to mudslinging and singled out Mandaluyong Representative Neptali Gonzales III, a staunch ally of the Aquino administration, for allegedly using the pork barrel funds for ghost projects that the Commission on Audit did not expose.
“Why is [he] is not being questioned? Dahil ba dahil sya ay nasa Liberal Party (Is it because he belongs to the Liberal Party)?” Estrada said.
“Si Rep. Gonzales, may ghost projects at P275-million cash advances na walang kaukulang pinaglalaanan, ayon sa COA,” Estrada said. “Maayos bang nagagamit ang kanyang PDAF? Mukhang hindi ayon sa COA report.”
(Rep. Gonzales had ghost projects and made P275-million cash advances for non-existent projects.)
Estrada also claimed that the pork barrel funds of Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Peter Cayetano, former senators Francis Pangilinan and Manny Villar and former An Waray Representative Florencio “Bem” Noel were plagued by anomalies.
Witnesses at the Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam identified Estrada and two other senators who had allegedly funnelled their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) to questionable non-government organizations (NGOs).
Citing a COA report, Estrada said at least four incumbent and former senators have allegedly used their pork barrel funds without complying with the procurement law.
Estrada said Cayetano, Santiago, Pangilinan and Villar were among the legislators who contributed to the total of P1.2 billion worth of transactions with the local government units (LGUs).
But Estrada, who was charged with plunder for the alleged misuse of PDAF, wondered why the names of the four incumbent and former senators were not mentioned in the news.
“Bakit hindi nababanggit ang mga ito? Dahil ba sila ay kaalyado nila [Why are these things not being mentioned? Is it because they are allies?]” asked Estrada.
“Pero hindi ko po sinasabi na sila ay nagkasala [But I’m not saying that they’re guilty],” he said, adding that this was only based on the COA report.
In blasting Gonzales, Estrada said the Mandaluyong lawmaker accumulated at least P440 million PDAF in six years in office but based on COA reports, most of the funds went to the congressman’s district.
“In other words, his office is the implementor of his PDAF. That’s why he’s pushing for PDAF to stay,” said Estrada.
The COA report, however, showed that 28 suppliers in Mandaluyong City denied having undertaken the projects which supposedly received the funds worth P28.74 million.
Estrada said the COA report also disclosed that Gonzales allegedly spent P6 million to buy meals from Jollibee, a popular food chain.
“What’s this? P6 million worth of hamburger? Chicken joy and jolly hotdog? Why, this is really delicious,” said the senator.
The P6million , Estrada said, could buy about 2,000 hamburgers.
In the case of Noel , Estrada said the former partylist representative poured in millions of his PDAF into Gonzales’ district.
He said the COA report showed that P23 million of Noel’s PDAF did not comply with the procurement law and P19.6 million worth of transactions with suppliers had “questionable existence.”
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