SEN ESTRADA DELIVERS PRIVILEGE SPEECH ON PORK SCAM / DRILON WON'T SUMMON NAPOLES
Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
MANILA, SEPTEMBER 30, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Maila Ager - The family of Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada went to the Senate on Wednesday for his much anticipated speech reportedly on “pork barrel” funds. Estrada’s wife and children are present.
Members of his staff are wearing orange t-shirts and blouses with stickers bearing the words “We love Jinggoy.”
Estrada started to deliver his 22-page long speech a few minutes ahead of expected time. The session was expected to open at 3:30 pm but Estrada took the floor a little past 3 pm.
The senator is among those charged with plunder at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Lim-Napoles.
Estrada hits peers; silent on charges By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net
4:20 pm | Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
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.”
Privilege Speech of Sen. Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada on the ‘pork’ scam
Estrada blasts COA, media, senators over pork controversy
Napoles, 37 others face plunder, graft raps
FROM THE PHILSTAR
Jinggoy feels 'singled out' in pork probe, cries 'injustice' By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated September 25, 2013 - 4:17pm 6 31 googleplus0 0
MANILA, Philippines - Embattled Senator Jinggoy Estrada (photo) denounced on Wednesday that he --along with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr.-- are being singled out in the investigation on the alleged pork barrel scam.
In his highly-anticipated privilege speech on the alleged pork barrel scam, Jinggoy criticized the media, the Commission on Audit (COA) and even his colleagues in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for being "biased."
Estrada said they have been marked as the "worst thieves and scoundrels of government."
The senator questioned why the direction of the pork barrel probe seems to be limited to them and the non-government organizations of Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged scam mastermind.
"Bakit kaming tatlo lang ang iniimbistigahan? There is a saying: selective justice is injustice," Estrada said.
He said 356 congressmen and 15 senators were mentioned in the COA report, which he described as "incomplete" and "selective."
He also cited other irregularities involving the pork barrel that were mentioned in the COA report, but were not publicized by the media and in the Senate probe.
Estrada is facing plunder charges before the Office of the Ombudsman after being embroiled into the alleged multi-million-peso pork barrel scam supposedly masterminded by Napoles.
Aside from Estrada, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) also filed plunder cases against Enrile, Revilla and former representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanet and Edgar Valdez.
A total of 33 more individuals, including Napoles and three former lawmakers, where also sued by the NBI for plunder and malversation of public funds.
The NBI claimed that Estrada and the four lawmakers committed plunder in conspiracy with Napoles and officials of implementing agencies when they each accumulated millions of pesos in kickbacks through a series of transactions over time involving their pork barrel.
The NBI said Estrada alone allegedly pocketed P183.79 million in kickbacks from the pork barrel channeled to the NGOs of Napoles.
Estrada has inhibited himself from the investigation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
Drilon won't budge, won't summon Napoles By Dennis Carcamo (philstar.com) | Updated September 25, 2013 - 2:48pm 9 20 googleplus0 0
Guingona at senate blue ribbon committee hearing, for his part, insisted that Napoles, now detained at a police camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for serious illegal detention case, should appear before Senate inquiry.
MANILA,Philippines - Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday that disallowing Janet Napoles, the alleged brain behind the P10 billion pork barrel scam, to appear before the Senate probe is not a question which institution, Senate or Office of the Ombudsman, is "supreme."
"What we must uphold is supremacy of the rule of law. There is no question that serving the ends of justice and making our justice system work is our primary objective," Drilon said in a statement.
Drilon and Sen. TG Guingona, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, are now at loggerheads whether to issue a subpoena for Napoles to attend and testify before the Senate inquiry.
"It was out of prudence and caution that I decided to defer to the advice and recommendation of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales not to require, at this time, Janet Lim-Napoles appearance before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee," Drilon said.
"While my decision appears unpopular to media and a public eager to see Napoles grilled by the Blue Ribbon Committee, I have decided on the side of caution. I would rather err on the side of prudence," he added.
He said the justice system's main goal is to prosecute the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel cases against Napoles "with dispatch and without delay."
Guingona, for his part, insisted that Napoles, now detained at a police camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for serious illegal detention case, should appear before Senate inquiry.
According to the special audit report of the Commission on Audit, the multibillion peso PDAF of legislators were allegedly funneled into several ghosts projects via bogus non-government organizations of Napoles.
FEOM THE INQUIRER
Guingona subpoenas Benhur Luy, whistle-blowers in next hearing By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net 10:17 am | Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines – An angry Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, on Tuesday ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to bring the whistle-blowers in the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam in the chamber’s next hearing on Thursday.
“What you have done is unprecedented. Unprecedented. And in my view, you have attempted to undermine and diminish the power of the blue ribbon committee. I’m very, very disappointed,” Guingona told de Lima.
“And I don’t agree with your stand. I’m therefore issuing a subpoena for you, directed to you to have the whistle-blowers appear before the Senate blue ribbon on Thursday, 10 in the morning,” the senator added.
Guingona then suspended the hearing.
Immediately after he opened the proceeding at around 9:30 a.m., Guingona confronted De Lima over her failure to bring principal whistle-blower Benhur Luy and other witnesses in the scam as agreed on.
The senator said he and De Lima met last week where the justice secretary promised that she would bring the whistle-blowers in the committee’s next hearing.
Guingona said the committee was supposed to meet again last Thursday, September 19, but that De Lima requested that it be moved to another date because of hectic schedules and also because the whistle-blowers were tired.
This was the reason, why Guingona said, the committee conducted its hearing this Tuesday.
On Monday, however, Guingona said the committee received a letter from De Lima, saying she could not bring the whistle-blowers, citing the rules of the Office of the Ombudsman, prohibiting “publicity” when the case has been filed in court.
“Madam Secretary, this is unprecedented,” Guingona said. “I did not issue a subpoena because (we have an agreement that you would bring them here) and I relied that representation. I relied on that agreement.”
“You invoked the rules of the Ombudsman on that letter. In my opinion, you can’t invoke the rules of the Ombudsman because you’re not the Ombudsman,” he added.
De Lima admitted that she had made a promise but said she had to re-evaluate her decision after reading the Ombudsman’s rules of procedures.
“I had to take a closer look of the law particularly the Ombudsman law, and the Ombudsman rules of procedures and it was confirmed from my reading of the law that actually whenever a case has been filed with the Ombudsman, the general rule becomes no publicity if it will prejudice the disposition of a case before the office of the Ombudsman,” she said.
But De Lima clarified that she was not invoking the “authority or the powers of the Ombudsman on her own behalf.”
“I have no such power to do so. Yes, we’re clear on that. It’s only the Ombudsman that can invoke such prerogative to whether or not to make public matters falling under the confidentiality rule under the Ombudsman’s rules of procedures…” she further said.
She also pointed out that her letter and appearance in the hearing without the whistle-blowers was “not a categorical rejection or disobedience to the Senate committee.”
All she was asking, De Lima said, was for the committee to provide Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales the opportunity to state her position since charges in connection with the scam have been filed already at her office.
Interviewed by reporters after the hearing, De lima expressed readiness to bring the whistle-blowers in the next hearing of the committee on Thursday.
“If I receive a subpoena then I have no choice because otherwise I might be cited for contempt,” she said.
When asked what if the Senate issued a subpoena and the Ombudsman ordered her not to bring the whistle-blowers, De Lima said: “Then I will have to further study, I will have to further evaluate kasi magiging legal issue na yan [it would be a legal issue].”
After the interview, De Lima approached and apologized to Guingona, who accepted the gesture.
Luy appeared in the hearing last September 12 and narrated how some legislators allegedly received kickbacks from Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the scam.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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