Pork scam probe to focus on policy issues

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Monday, January 27, 2014

THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will no longer call on the pork barrel scam whistleblowers and detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles in its next hearing as the investigation will now shift to the policy issues.

Senator Francis Escudero said the 82 non-government organizations, which have link with Napoles, will also be part of the investigation.

Napoles, who is now detained at the Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, is the alleged mastermind in pork barrel scam.


Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said there is perhaps no more purpose to call for another hearing for the whistleblowers as he expressed belief that it will just be a waste of time of the committee.

The matter cropped up in the wake of the recent public exchanges between the camp of the whistleblowers and Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., with pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy even challenging the senator to a face-off before the Senate hearing to prove or disprove their respective claims.

In his privilege speech last Monday, Revilla claimed that the alleged endorsement letters that bore his supposed signatures were all fake and were not confirmed by him contrary to previous news reports.

But the Commission on Audit maintained they have in their possession a letter of endorsement coming from Revilla, which they said were confirmed to have his authentic signature.

"It may not be as exciting as the hearings we had last year but it’s as important because we will be discussing policy issues," Pimentel said.

Blue Ribbon committee chairman Senator Teofisto Guingona III, for his part, confirmed that his committee will be inviting heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commission on Audit (COA) and Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG), among other government agencies to shed light on issues concerning policies of each department.

The hearing, Guingona said, will focus on policy issues such as the registration, accreditation and monitoring of NGOs (non-government organizations) that deal with government contracts.

Among those invited to the hearing are SEC Chairman Teresita Herbosa, COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan, GCG Chairman Cesar Villanueva, Cooperative Development Authority Chairman Emmanuel Santiaguel; Dennis Santiago, executive director of the Government Procurement and Policy Board and Philippine Council for NGO Accreditation Chairman Augusto Carpio.

Guingona said they will not invite the bank manager, which was mentioned earlier, as he explained that the committee had in their possession all the pertinent documents needed.

Last November 7, Napoles faced the committee only to say that she didn't know anything about the pork barrel scam. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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