Reopening of the 'pork' probe still in limbo

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Monday, June 16, 2014


TWO members of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on Monday said there is no clear assurance on the resumption of the probe on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

"Legally there is no urgency with us because it is already with the Ombudsman," Senator Sergio Osmena III, committee vice chairman, said in an interview. "Under the law the Ombudsman is tasked to conduct the investigation and file a case if warranted. So no matter what we say here, it is all chismis."

Osmena said it is not the duty of the legislators to prosecute and since the case is already in the court, they are expecting that the court will do their work as expected.

"We at the Senate, we are supposed to legislate. We are supposed to conduct investigations in aid of legislation but the people want to know more that is why we are still conducting hearings to satisfy the people who want to hear the truth," the senator further said.

Osmena said he could not blame Senate Blue Ribbon chairperson Senator Teofisto Guingona III if he is not giving any concrete answer on whether or not they will still reopen the investigation.

"Senator Guingona has taken the lead. Hindi namin siya ginugulo," Osmena said. However, he affirmed that Malacanang does not control Guingona on his decision.

"But it is very obvious that the Palace is trying to control the information coming out of the other agencies," he added.

Osmena also clarified that the investigation is not yet closed so there is really no need to reopen it.

For his part, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV came to the defense of Guingona, saying that based on their conversations, the latter has been going through, scrutinizing details of the digital files of Benhur Luy submitted to the panel by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

"Hindi po biro ang 31,700 pages. Based on our last conversation, talagang hinihimay nya yung Benhur Luy files," Trillanes said.

The matter of reopening the hearing, Trillanes said, depends on how Guingona sees things.

"That's a judgment call of Guingona if he thinks he should pursue further investigation or not. But as of now, the case in the Sandiganbayan will proceed on its own. While there are still a number of issues we need to tackle still, we should not be an obstacle in the legal processes," said Trillanes.

Trillanes also disputed the criticisms of some sectors that the committee appears to be now sitting on the case, especially after the Ombudsman has formally filed plunder charges against Senate Majority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla.

He said Guingona has been transparent in giving the members of the media all documents that were forwarded to the Blue Ribbon committee.

"The documents were turned over to Sen. Guingona were immediately released it to the media. He never dictated the media on what to do. He is very transparent," Trillanes said.

Trillanes said whatever decision of the blue ribbon chair, "We will have to respect. The case now is in court and of course that is one big consideration that the blue ribbon chair must take into account." (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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