Drilon: Leave ‘pork’ probe to Ombudsman

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014


AFTER the heated exchange in the Senate floor between Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Teofisto Guingona III, Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday told members of the chamber to leave the pork barrel scam investigation to the Office of the Ombudsman.

"'Yung Ombudsman ay may sariling imbestigasyon at medyo malayo na ang inabot ng imbestigasyon sa Ombudsman kaya hindi naman sa walang nangyayari tungkol diyan at siguro makapagdedesisyon naman ang Ombudsman sa lalong madaling panahon," Drilon said.

Besides, Drilon said that if Senator Tito Sotto III's proposal that the hearings in relation to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam allegedly involving senators be taken up by the Senate committee on ethics is approved, there is no senator who wants to sit as chairperson.

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"We are still exerting every effort to form the Ethics Committee with senators who have no opinion on this point. My first preference is an independent body, the Ombudsman, is already investigating this," the Senate chief said.

Estrada, along with Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, is facing plunder charges before the Ombudsman. The charges were filed five months ago.

"I doubt it very much if we (ethics committee) can have any substantial work by the time we go on a break by March 15. We would rather first concentrate on the legislative agenda that we have agreed with the House of Representatives," Drilon added.

Estrada previously slammed Guingona, who sits as the Blue Ribbon committee chairman, for "pre-judging" the outcome of the investigation after hearing the testimony of potential state witness Ruby Tuason.

Guingona said Tuason's testimony was a "three-point, buzzer-beater winning shot." But the Blue Ribbon chairman clarified that he was only referring to the weight and value of the testimony and was not meant to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused parties.

Estrada supported the proposal of Sotto, saying the Senate ethics committee is the proper forum for "those who have gripes or goods against senators."

"Hindi 'yung hearing ng hearing tapos parang guilty na kami. We are being tried by publicity," Estrada said.

But Guingona said the Blue Ribbon committee will still continue its hearings on the PDAF scam.

"We will continue searching for the truth," he told reporters. (Sunnex)

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