SENATE majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano sees no reason for the Justice Department to grant immunity to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam, but it would be better for her to spill the beans when she testify before the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing next week.
Cayetano, who expressed objection over the proposal to grant Napoles immunity to convince her to reveal everything she knows about the scam, said that the government already obtained all the needed evidence regarding the controversy that is why there is no need for her to given immunity.
He also insisted that the move will send a wrong message to the whistleblowers who agreed to cooperate with the government and provided information that would help pin down Napoles and those public officials involved in the scam.
“I still advise her to tell all for her sake and for the sake of her family,” Cayetano added.
It was senator Serge Osmena 3rd who suggested that Napoles be given immunity in order for the senate blue ribbon committee to obtain additional information about the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) anomaly.
According Osmena, unless Napoles is given immunity from suit, she will just keep on invoking her right against self-incrimination and right to remain silent during scheduled the senate panel hearing on November 7.
But Cayetano insisted that Napoles could not provide information which the government hasn’t obtained yet, and this is the reason why there is no need for her to be granted immunity.
Instead of giving so much hype to Napoles testimony, the government should now pursue the remaining 74 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) included in the special audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA) that were also found to have questionable transactions.
“Remember the Napoles NGOs are only 10 percent of the total number of NGOs with questionable transactions, 90 percent are yet to be investigated,” Cayetano noted.
There is also a need to look into the PDAF and non-PDAF disbursement from 2010 to 2012 which may also contain anomalous transactions.
This after Senator Aquilino Pimentel 3rd in a privilege speech asked the senate blue ribbon committee to look into the questionable November 2012 memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the provincial government of Surigao del Sur and the Department of Agriculture (DA) that mentioned his name as receiving funds from Organic Agriculture Program of the DA.
According to Pimentel his office has nothing to do with the MOA and it possible that his signature was forge to make it appear that he is involved in the agreement.
The MOA was signed by Undersecretary Antonio Fleta of the DA and Governor Johnny Pimentel.
Pimentel also said that he will be filing a case against Fleta before the Office of the Ombudsman for falsification.
The lawmaker insisted that he could not have asked for allocations from the DA since the fund involve is a non-PDAF allocation.
Meanwhile in a related development, Senator Ferdinand Marcos on Tuesday said that he
would personally conduct a more extensive investigation and identify those behind the forging of signatures of lawmakers.
Marcos issued the statement after learning that his name has once again been dragged in the alleged release of PhP 24.25 million to an NGO named Masaganang Ani para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (MAMFI) for supposed livelihood projects in Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental in 2011.
Marcos who immediately checked the records of his office discovered that there was no document or record pertaining to any transaction or endorsement from his office involving MAMFI for any period, including the year 2011.
There was also no document or record pertaining to a PDAF release in the amount of P24.25 million to the provinces of Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental.
He also cited the records posted in the website of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showing that the only project funded through his PDAF in the Davao area in the 2011 was the P300,000 for construction/ improvement of a drainage canal in Barangay Rafael Castillo, Agdao, Davao City.
The fund was allocated to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Davao City District Engineering Office.
“I am sick and tired of my name being dragged into this controversy. I never even knew that there was such a thing called DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) until COA wrote to me in September this year,” he stressed.
Marcos cautioned the public to be wary of the obvious attempts of certain quarters to give piece-meal information to the media in order to satisfy their feeding frenzy.
“Trial by publicity does not involve any trial. It is what it is: it’s a publicity stunt,” he added. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA