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Miriam: Senators in P10-B 'pork barrel scam' should go on leave

July 15, 2013 3:49pm
(Updated 7 p.m.) Senators linked to the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam should take a leave of absence pending formal investigation, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Monday.

Santiago, speaking before the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, said the senators should take a leave so they couldn't be accused of using their positions to skirt the investigation currently being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

In a report on GMA News TV's "Balitanghali" on Monday, Santiago identified the senators as Ramon Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Gringo Honasan.

The scam was allegedly carried out by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, whose JLN Group of Companies was reportedly tapped for government-funded "ghost projects" that were allegedly used for kickbacks between contractors and lawmakers.

The funds came from the lawmakers' pork barrel, or formally known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Some senators linked to the supposed anomaly have issued separate statements denying their alleged involvements.

Revilla sees Palace hand

Revilla, for one, blamed the Aquino administration for the allegation, saying only “non-allies” were targeted in the investigation.

"I have already been warned by someone in Malacañang that I will be targeted... This controversy has been engineered by the administration for only one purpose – to demolish the opposition,  especially those who enjoy the popular support of our people," Revilla said.

"Suspiciously, only non-allies of the administration are being dragged into this controversy.  Bakit hindi nila buklatin at usisain din ang mga record ng paggamit ng PDAF ng lahat, pati ang mga kaalyado ng pangulo?" he added.

Marcos, for his part, said he personally does not know Napoles and has never spoken to her “so I have had no personal dealings with her."

"However, I am more than eager to fully cooperate in the investigation and in any other similar efforts that will reveal the truth on this matter," he added.

Revilla and Marcos have yet to comment on Santiago's call for them to go on leave.

Meanwhile, Honasan claimed "all records regarding the use of development funds ... are subject to accounting and auditing procedures according to law."

He maintained that the records of his office are "transparent and open for public scrutiny."

"Any allegations, insinuations of irregularity must be backed up evidence in the proper courts of law subject to due process and not politically motivated suspicious or malicious trial by publicity," Honasan said.

Option

On the call for him to go on leave, Honasan said it may only be an option after pork barrel release orders from the Department of Budget and Management are made public and after the NBI releases its initial report.

"(This is) to avoid pervasive instutionalized habitual trial by publicity, when it should be through due process backed up by evidence in the proper courts of law," Honasan told GMA News Online in a text message.

Enrile, for his part, said he does not know Napoles, and that he "has not received any bribe or in any way financially benefited" from his PDAF.

"My office has consistently abided by all Department of Budget and Management issuances and guidelines, old and new, regarding all requirements for projects to be qualified for PDAF," he said.

Enrile added that he is submitting himself to the investigation.

To aid the investigation as well as to "bring to justice all parties," Enrile said the Commission on Audit should release the findings of its special audit on the PDAF.

Enrile refused to comment on Santiago's statement, according to his media relations officer Lizette Nepomuceno.

Estrada, meanwhile, said he would not release a statement on such an old issue, according to the "Balitanghali" report. Marc Jayson Cayabyab/KBK, GMA News



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