Three senators implicated in the pork barrel controversy will not attend the Senate blue ribbon committee inquiry Thursday to avoid suspicion they might influence the proceedings.
The three – Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Gregorio Honasan and. Ramon Revilla Jr. –made it clear that they fully support the inquiry and its purpose to come up with new measures on how to avoid the misuse of pork barrel or to continue the plan of abolishing it in our government system.
Honasan said that like any other Filipino, he wanted to find out how the supposed mastermind of scam, Janet Lim-Napoles, did it.
Honasan is calling not only for the “calibrated abolition” of the legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) but the funds received by other branches of the government as well.
He said the investigation should also include “intelligence funds,” which are not subject to state auditing.
In a press statement, Revilla said he will not attend the hearing because he is not a member of the blue ribbon panel to begin with.
“But I fully support the inquiry and all the other investigations into the matter,” he said, adding he is confident the inquiry will be fair and objective.
Enrile had already said he has no intention to intend the Senate inquiry, but is willing to be questioned by his colleagues if the committee asks him to appear.
The blue ribbon panel, headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, begins its inquiry Thursday with Commission on Audit Chairman Ma. Grace Pulido-Tan and COA commissioners Heidi Mendoza and Rowena Guanzon, as the first resource persons.
Sen. Francis Escudero, who filed a resolution that launched the investigation, said that apart from the COA officials, the committee should also invite other individuals particularly the whistleblowers and the heads of the organization and state-owned corporation implicated in the controversy.
Escudero wants the committee to invite Benhur Luy, the principal witness in the scam and a distant relative of Napoles, Merlina Sunas, an employee of JLN group and other witnesses Arthur Luy, Gertrudes Luy, and Annabelle Luy.
As for the decision of other senators to inhibit from the hearing, Escudero said they cannot be forced to attend.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd to create an independent commission to take the lead in investigating the misuse of the PDAF.
In a resolution filed Wednesday, Ejercito insisted on an independent body dedicated solely in finding out the truth concerning the PDAF misuse during the time of President Gloria Arroyo (2001-2010) and also the PDAF spending from 2010-2013.
The panel, Ejercito said, will operate independently of the Department of Justice (DOJ), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Office of the Ombudsman and the blue ribbon committee.