‘Time to release your list, DOJ’-A A +A
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
TWO Cebuano congressmen yesterday asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to submit soon the official list of persons allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam, saying that multiple lists will only confuse the public.
The DOJ is still vetting the list it obtained from Janet Napoles, but one version that former senator Panfilo Lacson submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has already been made public.
Quick action by the DOJ would “clear the confusion caused by the many unofficial lists being circulated by unknown sources,” read a text message to Sun.Star Cebu from Rep. Raul del Mar (Cebu City, north district).
Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr., whose name appears in the Lacson list along with that of del Mar, also urged the DOJ to get to the bottom of the multiple lists.
“I can say that the only parties who stand to gain considerably from this mess-up are those who are truly liable,” Gullas said in a press conference yesterday.
Napoles is facing a plunder case for allegedly organizing fake non-government organizations (NGOs) that then received at least P10 billion in congressional funds.
Amid the controversy, the Supreme Court ruled in late 2013 that the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF), commonly known as the pork barrel, was unconstitutional. The Department of Budget and Management, in its website, said no PDAF has been released since the first half of 2013 ended.
During last night’s plenary in the House of Representatives, Congressman del Mar pointed out that only the DOJ’s list will be used as basis in the filing of charges
against those allegedly involved.
“Definitely, my name will not be there as I have been careful in the proper use of my PDAF,” said the congressman.
Del Mar, who has served in the House for 21 years, began this current term last June 30, 2013. So did Gullas, who replaced his grandfather, former congressman Eduardo Gullas.
Del Mar reiterated his denial of any transaction with Napoles using his PDAF. He also emphasized that he has not met Napoles.
Lawyer Clavel Asas-Martinez, who was congresswoman of Cebu Province’s first district from 1998 to 2007, is also in the list Lacson submitted. In a message relayed by her son, Association of Barangay Councils Provincial Federation President Celestino Martinez III, the ex-congresswoman said she neither met with nor transacted with Napoles.
In a related development, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Camp Crame Director Benjamin Magalong admitted it would be a challenge for them to arrest politicians allegedly mentioned in Napoles’s list.
In his visit at the CIDG 7 headquarters, he said they were tasked by the Philippine National Police Director Allan Purisima to serve the warrant against those politicians
involved once the court issues them.
“We have prepared contingency plans in case the warrants will be issued,” said Magalong.
“They are well educated and have good disposition. I am sure if ever there will be a warrant, they know what to do and they will cooperate instead of hide. Alam nila kung anong mangyayari if magtatago sila (They know what will happen if they hide),” added Magalong.
In yesterday’s press conference, Gullas pointed out he was not even a congressman yet when Napoles allegedly siphoned off public funds for non-existent or dubious projects.
He appealed to the Cebu media, especially to radio commentators, not to judge him on the basis of a questionable list.
“I am utterly shocked that I have supposedly been included in one of the many purported Napoles lists being peddled by unknown sources through the media. The inclusion of my name in one of the lists is outrageous, and makes no sense at all,” Gullas said.
“This is my first term ever as a congressman,” he said.
The Supreme Court had already blocked the release of the PDAF by the time his term started last year, “thus, the inclusion of my name in any of the so-called Napoles lists is downright inconceivable and impossible,” Gullas said. “I promised my constituents trustworthy service, and they are getting honest service (from me).”
Gullas said the members of the House minority, headed by Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, told him that they will hold a press conference in Manila to question the credibility of the list that includes Gullas’s name.
“It’s just so sad and I get emotional because the damage (to my name) has been done no matter what I say. If you are tagged in a list like that, the public outcry on the previous list is bad in itself,” Gullas said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 15, 2014.