‘Pork barrel’ scam probe not open to public

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Monday, August 5, 2013

(UPDATED) Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano’s proposal for an open and transparent probe into the alleged corruption in the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has been rejected by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

De Lima said Monday that she will consider the suggestion "in due time" but not at this point where the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still at evidence gathering and verification.

"It's not advisable as it is not prudent for the probe to be open and public at this point. (There are) still a lot actual matters being verified or validated," she said in a text message.

Cayetano was hoping that the DOJ will grant media access and encourage public participation in the investigation similar to how the department held marathon hearings in 2010 on the bungled hostage rescue in Manila that killed eight Chinese tourists.

He said people should not just be aware of the result of the investigation that involves public money.

Last week, whistleblower Benhur Luy and another witness Merlina Suñas presented documents to the NBI as proof that taxpayer's money went to fake non-government organizations (NGO) supposedly ran by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Reports then came out linking administration Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Loren Legarda, and Aquilino Pimentel III to the scam, which de Lima denied last Thursday.

"We are wondering where those additional names are coming from. As far as I know, those names do not appear in the documents/records currently in NBI's possession. There appear to be unseen hands or elements that are trying to muddle the ongoing NBI probe," she said.

A resolution was also filed in the Senate to investigate the scam but some senators including Cayetano believe that the result would not be convincing to the public, considering that few members of the chamber have been implicated in the controversy. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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