Officials ready to face Malampaya probe

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Malacañang on Friday said it has no qualms about some administration officials being investigated in connection with the Malampaya fund scam, noting that there is no prohibition for them to appear before any investigating body such as the Senate.

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In a press briefing, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also shielded her colleagues from allegations of involvement in the scam.

“Well, one, it is speculative to say that that administration officials will be investigated,” said the Palace official.

“But when they are called to answer whatever charges there are, we have no problems with them attending the probe,” she stressed.

Valte made the remark as the Senate blue ribbon committee geared up to proceed with its probe on the P910-million fund scam beginning December 1, if the budget deliberations could be finished by then.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, originally set the probe on September 25 but decided to forego the hearings because of the unavailability of Commission on Audit (COA) chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan.

In the past weeks, Guingona had been the subject of criticisms, including the opposition who scored the lawmaker for delaying the conduct of the investigation where some administration allies could be dragged.

Guingona was accused of being “selective” in probing matters that only concern the opposition such as the probe on Vice President Jejomar Binay’s assets.

But Valte gave the assurance that once started, administration officials who would be called in to shed light on the Malampaya fund misuse would attend the hearings.

“We saw that during the DAP [Disbursement Acceleration Program] hearing, [Budget] Secretary [Florencio] Abad was present. Also, when the Iloilo Convention Center was investigated, [Public Works] Secretary [Rogelio] Singson and [Tourism] Secretary [Ramon] Jimenez were also there,” noted Valte.

“So we have no problem with our officials facing this kind of investigation,” she further stressed.

Sen. Nancy Binay previously scored the Blue Ribbon Committee for not holding even one hearing on the alleged misuse of P900 million in Malampaya funds, which were purportedly siphoned off by pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

The Senate heard testimony that pork barrel agent Ruby Tuason helped Napoles siphon off Malampaya funds, supposedly with the help of an aide of Mike Arroyo, the husband of former president and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga.

Detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said Tuason received the biggest share from the scam. Estrada himself earlier chided the Blue Ribbon chief for sitting on the Malampaya inquiry.

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