3 Cebuanos listed-A A +A
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
CEBU - Two current and one former member of Congress from Cebu were named in the list of officials who had allegedly done business with Janet Napoles.
The list, which former senator Panfilo Lacson submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, allegedly came from Jimmy Napoles, whose wife stands accused of organizing fake non-government organizations (NGO) that received billions in taxpayers’ funds.
“This is outrageous,” said Representative Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas Jr. (Cebu Province, First District), who was among those listed. He pointed out that when he assumed as congressman last June 30, 2013, the Supreme Court had already stopped the release of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF), more commonly known as the pork barrel.
Also listed were Representative Raul del Mar (Cebu City, North) and former congresswoman Clavel Asas-Martinez of the province’s fourth district.
“I’m surprised why my name is in that rumored list when I was never included in the many lists circulated in the past,” said del Mar.
“Anyway, let’s just wait for the official DOJ (Department of Justice) list, which shall be the basis for the filing of appropriate charges,” the congressman said in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu.
“Definitely, my name will not be there for I had been very careful in the proper use of my PDAF for transparent projects benefiting my constituents.”
The list released by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee contains no signatures, dates or amounts.
Gullas said the fact that his name appears on the list casts doubt on its credibility.
“How could I, a pure first-term and neophyte congressman, abuse my PDAF when it was already suspended when I assumed office at the start of the 16th Congress?” he said.
Sun.Star Cebu failed to contact Martinez, who was elected to the Lower House from 1998 to 2007.
Her son, Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) Provincial Federation President Celestino Martinez III, texted Sun.Star Cebu Tuesday night to say that he had spoken with his mother on the phone and that she denied any alleged dealings with Napoles.
“I asked her about it and she said she never did any transaction with Napoles or any of her people and she (Clavel) has never even met her.”
In August 2013, the Sandiganbayan ordered Clavel’s arrest for the alleged transfer of government funds intended for the Girl Scouts of the Philippines to her private account, when she was congresswoman.
But her husband, Bogo City Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez Jr., had shown a Sandiganbayan order to suspend the warrant’s enforcement.
In Metro Manila, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said he released the list from Lacson because he wanted to make everything “open to the public”.
Among those listed are former and incumbent senators Aquilino Pimentel III, Robert Barbers (deceased), Loren Legarda, Vicente Sotto III, Gregorio Honasan, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce-Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Francis Escudero, Manuel Villar and Alan Peter Cayetano.
The list also includes officials of government agencies and several agents who allegedly worked for Napoles.
“I cannot speak for my other colleagues, but my position is clear. Make all the lists public,” Escudero said. “We should also know what is true and what is bogus.”
Napoles herself previously submitted her list to the justice department; another list is said to be with Sandra Cam.
Sen. Sergio Osmena III, meanwhile, said he will only listen to the list that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima obtained from Napoles herself.
“That is the only one that matters because it has been signed and sworn to by Napoles,” he explained.
Senate Majority Alan Peter Cayetano, whose name appears in the Lacson list, described the move as “Napoles’s weapon of mass distraction.”
He asked the Aquino administration to come out with the complete list of the Special Allotment Release Order and all the documents from the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission on Audit that will show who among the lawmakers have been dealing with Napoles and her NGOs. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 15, 2014.