• Justice clears 3 senators in pork scandal

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    JUSTICE Secretary Leila De Lima on Thursday said her agency will not investigate senators Antonio Trillanes 4th, Loren Legarda and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd because there is no evidence or documents showing that their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel had been misused.

    De Lima said the three administration senators were not included in the affidavits filed by Benhur Luy, who has claimed that the pork barrel of some senators were given to bogus non-government organizations.

    The names of the three were also not mentioned in the documents obtained by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an attached agency of the Department of Justice.

    “We were surprised by news items that there were additional names, especially senators. I’ve seen most of the documents, affidavits, but not at all, I did not see their names…I asked NBI, the team handling the investigation, they also confirmed to me that the names of the three senators are not there,” De Lima said.

    Levito Baligod, Benhur Luy’s counsel, said his client did not mention Trillanes, Legarda, and Pimentel in his affidavit.

    De Lima said some sectors are discrediting the NBI by floating the names of lawmakers who are not being implicated in the scandal.

    “That’s not fair to the NBI which is in the middle of conducting all these ongoing big investigations,” she said.

     

    Senate probe

    Sen. Francis Escudero insisted that the Senate should also investigate the PDAF scam to give lawmakers implicated in the controversy a chance to air their side.

    Last month Escudero asked the Blue Ribbon committee to investigate irregularities in the lawmakers’ use of their PDAF through Janet Lim-Napoles, owner of the JLN Group of Companies.

    Several senators, including Senate President Franklin Drilon, opposed the proposal.

    But Escudero said the Senate investigation is different from the NBI probe. He explained that while some information have been made public, the Senate inquiry can also make sure that all information and personalities involved are heard.

    “We want to show to every Filipino that neither sacred cows nor the notion of an “old boys club” exists in a government working for change” he said.

    Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who was also implicated in the anomaly, is ready to face any allegations linking him to the pork barrel scam, according to Malacañang.

    Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Alcala met with President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday.

    “Secretary Alcala said he’s willing to explain these issues,” he said. If there’s any claim, Secretary Alcala will respond to it,” Lacierda said.

    BY JEFF ANTIPORDA, CATHERINE VALENTE REPORTERS AND JOMAR CANLAS SENIOR REPORTER

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