Osmeña warns of coverup in probe of Palace office linked to ‘pork’
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sergio Osmeña III warned of a possible “coverup” in the P515-million “pork barrel” fund scam that allegedly went to questionable organizations after President Benigno Aquino III ordered his own men to provide him a thorough report on the matter.
The funds were allegedly coursed through the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which is under the Office of the President, prompting Aquino to direct Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras to look into the issue.
But Aquino’s move did not sit well with Osmeña.
“I don’t like that idea. And I am suspicious of it. Why would he ask Peter to investigate Paul? Get an outsider to investigate,” the senator told reporters on Tuesday.
“They might just cover-up their own…Supposed Abad was the one who released the money?” Osmeña asked.
The National Bureau of Investigation, he said, should be the one to investigate the matter.
“They will investigate? Why will they be the ones to investigate that? Why don’t they call the NBI? They should not be the ones…they’re not investigators…” the senator said.
“You know, that bothers me because they’re not investigators; they’re not trained investigators. There’s a way to investigate these things. Kami nga dito sa Senado, hirap na hirap nga kami dito because we’re not trained investigators. You give it to the NBI, they can do these in one week, it would take us one to two months to do, if at all,” he added.
Asked if it was alarming that the “pork barrel” scam had reached the Office of the President, Osmeña said: “No, because all those agencies are under the Office of the President. All departments are under the Office of the President.”
“All those corporations that you are talking about, whether it’s Nabcor or others, they’re all under the Office of the President. There are 600 corporations under the Office of the President,” he said.
Nabcor is National Agri-Business corporation, one of the agencies that was allegedly used as conduit to transfer the lawmakers’ pork barrel funds to organizations linked to detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
But asked about his reaction that the supposed transfer of funds to the NCMF happened under Aquino’s watch, Osmeña said: “Let’s see. What does it say? It says that there is corruption regardless of how honest Pnoy (Aquino) is. It’s a matter of management. If you don’t put the proper management controls in place, these things will always happen.”
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