Estrada cries injustice in pork barrel scam-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
MANILA -- Senator Jinggoy Estrada said Wednesday that he deserves to get a fair chance in defending himself in the alleged pork barrel scam, as he blasted colleagues who have been investigating the issue and the Commission on Audit (COA), whose results were used to pin down some lawmakers.
In a privilege speech, Estrada said he and three other senators were already portrayed as the "worst thieves and scoundrels" in government before the public.
Estrada was charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly amassing P183.79 million in pork barrel funds through the help of detained businesswoman Janet Napoles.
Without dropping names, Estrada apparently hit Senator Alan Peter Cayetano for making "snide remarks" while asking the witness in the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing about the identity of the alias of one of the senators involved.
"Why play this up when there are already media reports about this? And I have vehemently denied this. He even referred to a known campaign slogan of a fellow senator. Akalain mong sabihin pa nila: Sino 'yung senador na 'yun? Ano 'yung slogan niya, 'Gusto ko happy ka?' Ano ba ito? Bastusan na ba ito?" he said.
Cayetano earlier asked whistleblower Benhur Luy if one of the senators who used Napoles' fake foundations as recipients had a campaign slogan "gusto ko, happy ka," which Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile used in his successful bid for a fourth term in the Senate in 2010.
Enrile was also charged with plunder, along with Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. and more than 30 people.
Estrada also hit the Senate blue ribbon committee for focusing only on the foundations linked to Napoles even if there were 82 non-government organizations that received P6.1 billion from the pork barrel of 12 senators and 180 congressmen from 2007 to 2009.
He urged his colleagues not to be hypocrites, saying there are also lawmakers allied with President Benigno Aquino III with alleged anomalous disbursements of PDAF. He called out An Waray Representative Florencio Noel and Mandaluyong Representative Neptali Gonzales II, who supposedly used P6.6 million for fastfood purchases.
Estrada said Senator Franklin Drilon worked for the release of P50-million pork barrel for senators who voted to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona last year. Estrada was one of the 20 senators who handed the guilty verdict but clarified he was not influenced by any supposed incentive.
"I have yet to see that letter mentioned by Senator Estrada. But if the insinuation is that the Department of Budget and Management and I gave out additional PDAF funds as incentives to those who voted to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona, that is not true," said Drilon in a statement.
Drilon believes that senators voted according to their conscience and their impartial evaluation of the evidence presented during the impeachment trial.
Estrada also alleged that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad warned congressmen through text that they will not receive their PDAF if they did not vote for the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez in 2011.
The same pressure was applied in the passage of the controversial reproductive health bill in December last year, he said.
Later in his speech, Estrada rued that it will be impossible for those implicated in the scam to get fair and just treatment. He wished though that he can face the music before an impartial forum.
"At kapag nabago na ang bulok na sistema, naiwasto ang tiwali at naitama ang mali, doon pa lang natin masasabi na tunay na ang tuwid na daan," he said.
In reaction to Estrada's speech, Malacanang said Wednesday that it is the evidence that will determine who should be accountable in the alleged misuse of multi-billion pork barrel fund.
"We respect the desire of Senator Estrada to voice his opinions concerning the issues he raised in his privilege speech," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said a text message to reporters.
"What is important at this point are the ongoing investigations--and that it is the evidence that will determine where accountability lies," he added. (Virgil Lopez/SDR/Sunnex)