Jinggoy Estrada presses Guingona to probe Malampaya funds
MANILA, Philippines–Detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday called for a change in the leadership of the Senate’s ribbon committee, again criticizing its chair, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, for its handling of the P10-billion congressional pork barrel scam investigation and the delay in investigating the alleged irregularities in the Malampaya Fund’s use.
Estrada said Guingona’s low ranking among the preferred senatorial candidates in the latest Pulse Asia survey indicated “the public’s disgust over his mishandling of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund or the pork barrel) controversy.”
The blue ribbon committee, after conducting an investigation into the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, recommended the filing of charges against three senators—Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile—for allegedly diverting into their own pockets a portion of their PDAF allocations.
On the same day the committee’s draft report on its probe came out, the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge the three senators with plunder. They have since been arrested and detained.
“The partiality and neglect of the incumbent chairman of the Senate blue ribbon panel over significant issues before it necessitate a change in the committee leadership. I believe that under Senator Guingona, no productive, meaningful output can be expected, only mudslinging and selective justice,” Estrada said in a statement.
Under Guingona’s watch, the committee has been used as a tool to persecute members of the opposition, including Vice President Jejomar Binay, and besmirch their reputations, he said.
He also complained that Guingona had not scheduled a hearing of the Malampaya Fund scam.
Guingona actually set a hearing of the Malampaya Fund misuse issue for Sept. 25, but had to cancel it because the invited resource persons from the Commission on Audit would be out of the country at that date.
“The issue becomes timelier as proposals have been raised about the possibility of using the Malampaya Fund to avert a possible power crisis next year,” Estrada said.
Guingona earlier defended the blue ribbon committee hearings on the PDAF issue, contending that it was the evidence that spoke for the case. He also said he did not single out anyone for persecution.
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