Malacañang on Tuesday appealed to almost 100 mayors to help in the ongoing investigation on the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam involving businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier summoned 97 mayors whose signatures were allegedly forged by Napoles’ firm, JLN Corp, so she could get some P900 million from the Malampaya gas fund, supposedly meant to help constituents of these mayors during the wrath of Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng in 2009.
In a press conference, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte expressed confidence that the mayors could help in the investigation.
“Certainly. Their cooperation is needed in the investigation. Some of them would probably tell you, lumalabas na rin ‘yung mga reports na meron daw pong pinekeng signature, etcetera,” Valte said, referring to a report where the 97 mayors were named in an affidavit executed by Merlina Suñas, one of the so-called whistleblowers in the alleged wide-scale scam.
“So it is also in the interest of those people named to clear their names. Kasi, katulad ng sinabi ng Pangulo, importanteng malaman kung sino ba talaga ‘yung kasangkot at kung sino ‘yung nagamit lamang ‘yung pangalan,” she added
Several lawmakers also allegedly handed out large sums of their Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects of bogus non-government organizations.
The Palace official, however, distanced herself on the issue, but gave an assurance that the ongoing investigation into the scam will be impartial.
She assured that the probe was not influenced by any partisan concerns.
“We can look at the recent record of the NBI, and how their investigations have gone, and we can look at how impartial these investigations have been, as well as the basis for their recommendations, and we can go on from there,” she said
“Certainly, as we have assured in the past, the NBI investigation is and will continue to be objective and impartial,” the Palace official added
Meanwhile, Valte said that the Palace respects the decision of both houses of Congress not to conduct a separate, parallel probe into the issue.
“I understand that the position of the Senate President is that they would leave it to other agencies, primarily, because meron daw pong nababanggit na iba na kasama sa kanila. So ang point po ni Senate President [Franklin] Drilon ay baka daw po magkaroon ng pagdududa kung sila,” Valte explained.
“But we’ll leave that to the determination of both bodies. We will leave it to their membership to determine kung talaga ho bang magkakaroon ng imbestigasyon in both chambers,” she added. Catherine S. Valente