• Senate Blue Ribbon panel shifts probe to Malampaya fund mess

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    The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will close its probe on the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam and will shift to investigating the P900 million Malampaya Fund mess, a Senate leader said Thursday.

    Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, made the disclosure almost two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that the PDAF of past and present is unconstitutional via a unanimous 14-0 vote.

    The PDAF’s legality was questioned before the High Court in light of the filing of charges against lawmakers, their staff members and private citizens over the P10 billion PDAF or Congressional discretionary fund mess allegedly masterminded by Janet Napoles.

    “I think that would be [the end of]it [Blue Ribbon probe of P10 billion PDAF scam] because most of the goals of the Committee have already been met. We already know who did it and how it happened because charges are filed before the Office of the Ombudsman. How can we avoid it from happening? Well, the Supreme Court already ruled PDAF as unconstitutional. We all have a clear picture here,” Guingona told reporters in a chance interview.

    Guingona was referring to the plunder and graft-related charges filed against 38 individuals in connection with the P10 billion PDAF mess which included his fellow Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile.

    In one of the memorable moments of the Senate probe on the PDAF mess, whistleblower Benhur Luy told Guingona’s panel that Napoles’ kickbacks from PDAF transactions were so huge that the money cannot fit under her bed anymore and that they had to use the bath tub as storage for money.

    Prior to the PDAF ruling of the Supreme Court, each House member is entitled to P70 million worth of PDAF every year for the perusal of their constituents. The PDAF allocation for each Senator in a year is more than doubly higher at P200 million.

    “We could have an interim Committee Report of the PDAF probe and shift to the Malampaya fund mess because Napoles is also allegedly involved in there,” Guingona added.

    Plunder and graft-related charges were also filed against 22 incumbent and former government officials before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P900 million Malampaya fund misuse, led by former President Gloria Arroyo and former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

    The Malampaya fund is government money sourced from the payments of oil companies Caltex and Shell for extracting natural gas in Malampaya oil field in Palawan province. The law mandates that the said fund should be used to finance energy resource development and exploitation, as well as other energy related programs and projects of the government as may be directed by the President. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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