MANILA, Philippines –The chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee announces the results of the probe on the pork barrel scam hearings.
Senator TG Guingona says his report recommends the filing of plunder charges against 3 senators, former heads of government agencies, and the alleged mastermind of the corruption scandal.
Ayee Macaraig reports.
After months of denial and counter-allegations, the Senate probe into the pork barrel scam reaches a conclusion.
In a surprise move, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman TG Guingona releases the committee’s report into the biggest corruption scandal in recent history.
TG GUINGONA, CHAIRMAN, SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE: Natuklasan natin ang pera ng bayan napagplanuhan, may ginawang plano at nagkaroon ng sabwatan. (We discovered schemes and conspiracies to steal the country’s money.)
The committee recommends the filing of plunder charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. The chairman says the accused orchestrated an elaborate scheme to channel development funds to fake Napoles NGOs, and split the loot.
TG GUINGONA, CHAIRMAN, SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE: The use of a voucher system shows the sophistication of their system: white for the original ledger, yellow for accounting, and pink for the lawmaker. Grabe nangyari: pinagplanuhan, pinagkaisahan, pinagpasasaan. (What happened is shocking. It was planned, connived, and indulged.)
The Senate also recommends the filing of criminal cases against former heads of implementing agencies, and further investigation into the Napoles family.
It’s a double whammy for the 3 senators, with the Ombudsman announcing the same findings just minutes after Guingona’s press briefing. Senator Jinggoy Estrada says the timing is sinister.
JINGGOY ESTRADA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Clearly kami ang pinagplanuhan, kami ang pinagkaisahan at naging biktima ng sabwatan dito para lang mapapogi ang imahe ng ilan naming kasamahan sa Senado. (Clearly, they planned, colluded against us and victimized us so that some of our fellow Senators would look good.) It is a very, very well synchronized April Fools’ Day operation.
Estrada reiterates his colleagues prejudged and used the investigation for their political plans in 2016. Senator Bong Revilla’s lawyer says he will appeal the Ombudsman decision.
But for the other senators, the findings are controversial but necessary.
ALAN PETER CAYETANO, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Definitely dapat ang ikaso sa kanila kung ano ang pinakamataas in terms of crime and penalty. You can’t set example kung i-baby mo ang mga kasama. Mabigat talaga kasi di nila mapaliwanag ang ganoong kalaking pondo tapos dumating sa ghost beneficiaries. (Definitely the case charged against them should be the most severe in terms of crime and penalty. You can’t set an example if you baby the criminals. It’s serious because they can’t explain the large amount of money that went to ghost beneficiaries.)
TG GUINGONA, CHAIRMAN, SENATE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE: Let justice be done though the heavens fall.
Other senators will get a copy of the report for their endorsement.
But beyond Senate politics, the filing of plunder cases is a step to ensure that thieves do not escape accountability even if they sit in this high office. Ayee Macaraig, Rappler, Manila.
Senate President Franklin Drilon though clarifies the report is not an official Blue Ribbon committee report. Drilon says the signature of majority of the members is needed to make it official.
Some senators, like Koko Pimentel and Bam Aquino, say they neither saw nor signed the report before Guingona’s press conference. Senator Nancy Binay criticized Guingona’s move, saying he should have consulted the committee members before announcing the results of the probe.