THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has no evidence that legislators received kickbacks from the release of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel to their chosen non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Blue Ribbon chairman, said the panel has yet to establish if the funds received by bogus NGOs were funneled back to the legislators.
The committee has held two hearings and listened to several resource persons from the Commission on Audit (COA) and former heads of the two government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) who named at least three senators who released their PDAF to questionable NGOs.
Former officials of the National Agribusiness Corp (Nabcor) and the Zamboanga Rubber Estate Corporation (ZREC) identified the senators as Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.
The names of the three were also prominent in the presentation of COA Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan.
But while it was clear that dubious NGOs received millions of pesos from the lawmakers’ PDAF, it has yet to be established if the lawmakers got a “kickback” from the deal.
“What we have established so far is that the funds ended up in the hands of the bogus NGOs, but we are yet to find out if the money stayed with the NGOs or if it was given back to the legislators,” Guingona said.
He expressed belief that the witnesses could provide the information the committee needs to complete the PDAF money trail.
Guingona said that even without a paper trail showing where the PDAF money ended up, the committee can still trace it by using the testimony from witnesses.
The legislators who were implicated can attend the hearing and give their side of the story, but the panel has no intention to force them to appear, he said.
There were reports that some members of the House of Representatives, whose names also cropped up in the Blue Ribbon hearings, were willing to appear before the committee to explain their side.
Guingona said any senator or congressman can attend the hearing even without an invitation.
“It’s their right whether or not to participate in the investigation but whatever happens, the investigation must go on,” he said.