THE pork barrel scam that has implicated senators and other public officials including those “close” to President Benigno Aquino 3rd will not lead to destabilization of the government, Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th said on Sunday.
A rumored attempt to destabilize the government, he noted, will not be successful since the pork scam issue does not have a direct effect on Aquino.
Politicians affected by the issue, the senator said, could organize protest actions and rallies but they would have a hard time getting support from the military, again because the P10-billion pork barrel racket does not lead to the President’s office.
“We are checking the situation every now and then and we don’t see any movement and as for the possibility that some of the senators implicated in the scam still have influence in the military, I tell you there is nothing like that,” Trillanes added.
To help close the scam issue faster, he said a “Truth Commission” should replace the Senate blue ribbon committee in investigating the racket to avoid suspicion of the probe being rigged in favor of some committee members who have been linked to wrongdoing.
“That is why I’m proposing the formation of a ‘Truth Commission’ that will be in charge of the investigation, which will be open to the public like the blue ribbon hearings,” he said in an interview aired over dzBB.
Instead of senators, the proposed commission will be composed of individuals from the academe, retired justices and members of the media, for greater transparency.
Trillanes said the “Truth Commission” will be different from the one created by Aquino in 2010 that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).
That commission headed by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., according to Trillanes, was declared illegal because it “violates the equal-protection clause of the Constitution” for singling out the administration of President Gloria Arroyo.
“But the ‘Truth Commission’ I am proposing will focus not only on the PDAF scam but also the Malampaya fund [scam]and other related issues. [Its focus] will be comprehensive,” he said.
By allowing the proposed commission to take over the investigation, the Senate can concentrate on making laws that would be beneficial to millions of Filipinos.
Congress only has two weeks before it adjourns sine die on June 14.
It will open its second regular session on July 28 and is expected to start discussion on the Bangsamoro law and the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2015.
In suggesting that the Senate blue ribbon committee be replaced by the “Truth Commission,” Trillanes cited remedial measures that Congress had come up with to prevent a scam similar to the pork barrel racket from happening again, including removal of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) item from the annual GAA amounting to at least P25 billion.
The abolition of the PDAF or pork barrel will take effect in 2015, which means that the proposed national budget that will be submitted to Congress by Malacanang will no longer contain pork allocation for lawmakers.
Under the PDAF system, each senator receives an annual allocation of P200 million and each congressman, P70 million.