Published: Wed, August 21, 2013
By Joyce Ilas
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will hear allegations of misuse of Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) next week.
But the investigation raises the question: How credible will it be considering that then the people probing the alleged misuse of their pork barrel funds are the very ones accused of it?
For Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, the answer lies in appointing a special independent investigator in the person of former Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Based on the resolution that Cayetano said he would file on Thursday, the Blue Ribbon Committee would appoint the independent investigator who would make factual findings on the so-called PDAF scam.
The special investigation would be held parallel to the Blue Ribbon hearing – and would also be funded by the Senate.
"[The investigation to be headed by] Senator Lacson, it will hold all the nitty gritty of a ground investigation. It will really look under all stones. It will not sweep anything under the rug," Cayetano said. "If we allow former Senator Lacson to form his own team and do this, well, even if hindi pansinin ng Senate [even if Senate ignores him], he can sumbit it diretso sa [directly to the] Ombudsman."
But why Lacson?
Besides being one of the few senators who never bothered touching with his pork, Lacson has the capacity to get to the bottom of the matter.
Cayetano pointed out that Lacson's character was not under question in this issue.
"He's an elite investigator," he added. "He knows how to build up cases. He knows how to case people."
The problem now is that some of Lacson's closest colleagues in the Senate, such as Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, have been dragged into the pork barrel mess.
"Walang katiyakan doon. Pero ang katiyakan natin, mas magkakahiyaan kaming magkakasama ngayon [There's not certainty there. What we're certain of is that we who are together in the Senate would be hesitant in questioning each other]," he said.
And there was Lacson's track record of not pulling his punches when dealing with close colleagues, he said.
Cayetano admitted, though, that Lacson had not yet accepted his proposal.
The majority of senators would also need to adopt his resolution first before the special body could be created.
But, in a statement, Lacson said: "Most important is how the proposed body will be defined in regard to its mandate, scope, powers, and functions."
He added that he would also have to consult with President Benigno Aquino III, who was planning to creat an anti-corruptino body that Lacson would head.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bong Revilla said he woudl be willing to subject himself to an impartial investigation on his pork barrel use.
According to a special audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA), Revilla received excessive pork amounting to P269 million.
He also requested the transfer of PDAF three times – amounting to almost P360 million – to a nongovernment organization.
Revilla's counsel, Joel Bodegon, said records would show that Revilla did not endorse any NGO or requested implementing agencies to transfer his PDAF to any NGO.
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