Senate Blue Ribbon to move Malampaya hearings to 2014

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

SENATOR Teofisto Guingona III on Thursday said hearings of the Blue Ribbon committee will continue next year but more likely it will move towards policy matters and proceed to Malampaya fund issue.

In an interview, the Blue Ribbon committee chairperson said the continuation of the investigation will focus on several issues including the policy of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Cooperative Development Authority with regard to the registration of non-government organizations (NGOs) and foundations.

"Examples of policy issues are the registration of NGOs which involve the SEC and Cooperative Development Authority and other entities that register NGOs. Another policy matter is what will replace the function of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund), which is funding that responds to local needs. It is possible that bottoms-up budgeting and the institutionalization of the calamity fund are possible instruments," he said.

Guingona also said that all issues and the focus of their investigation is still be discussed by members of the Blue Ribbon committee.

"I will still be consulting with other senators but definitely we will continue the investigation," Guingona said.

Earlier, Senator Francis Escudero said the Malampaya fund misuse as well as the remaining 74 other non-government organizations (NGOs) identified by the Commission on Audit (COA) as conduits of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam from 2007 to 2009 should be investigated.

Escudero noted that of the 82 NGOs mentioned by the COA report as recipients of PDAF, only eight were linked to Napoles.

The Senate, Escudero said, must also look into the 74 others because the amount of funds that they took was bigger than those of Napoles’ NGOs.

Escudero said the 74 NGOs used the same scheme as the eight Napoles NGOs in securing the PDAF of legislators.

He also cited reports that there are whistle-blowers who are willing to come out against the 74 NGOs.

Escudero said he would also want to hear from Napoles’ husband, Jaime, about their businesses, supposedly the source of their wealth.

He also asked the Department of Justice to include a certain former bank manager said to be responsible for several transactions of Napoles and became one of her employees.

He said the former bank manager could face the same charge as Napoles if conspiracy is proven.

Guingona said he will listen and will consider all the recommendations of the member of the committee.

Meanwhile, Senator Guingona said Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago did not go beyond her limit as a legislator during the appearance of Janet Lim Napoles in the Blue Ribbon hearing.

Guingona said Santiago is just doing her job in questioning Napoles.

"Well it served the purpose lalo na in asking Napoles to come out with the truth. Although she was not successful, it served the purpose." Guingona said.

Earlier, Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said Senator Santiago during the Blue Ribbon hearing went overboard in her line of questioning.

Guingona said, "All senators are entitled to their own opinion. This is precisely the essence of democracy. Everyone has the right to speak and express their opinion."

He also said he will never put any restriction to any of his colleague in the Senate nor will he stop Santiago from questioning any of the resource person in any investigation. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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