Palace rejects Miriam’s proposal on scam

The Palace has better things to do than probe an alleged pork barrel scam, says a spokesperson

REJECTED. Malacañang says no to Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago's proposal for a separate probe.

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has bigger fish to fry.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Tuesday, July 16, said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should be allowed to do its job and probe the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Saying the NBI can conduct a “thorough and impartial” investigation, Valte also shot down a suggestion by Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago for President Benigno Aquino III to form a special team of prosecutors to look into the scam.

“For now, it is important for us to allow the investigation to take its course and for the investigation to answer the questions that are necessary. That way we’ll know what actually happened, and we’ll hold off on accusations,” she said.

Valte said the investigation’s results would also be basis to probe Aquino’s allies and their possible involvement in the scam. This, after former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile —who was tagged as having received kickbacks for the use of his pork barrel —said the names released were “selective and incomplete.”

The other senators linked to the P10-billion scheme are Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, Jinggoy Estrada, and Gregorio Honasan II — none of whom are Aquino’s allies.

“The President is always very strict and this is something that he has repeated to us —that government should never accuse without evidence and that we should never proffer accusations without proof. The investigation will settle that,” Valte said.

The scam, which spanned 10 years, allegedly involves a syndicate, Janet Lim Napoles and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim. Both are said to have used the pork barrel of lawmakers to fund ghost projects by fake non-government organizations.

The NBI is investigating the scam, after it was exposed by whistleblowers, Napoles’ former employees.

Demolition job?

An Inquirer report said Revilla gave Napoles access to his pork barrel in 22 instances. But Revilla said this was a demolition job against him. 

Valte dismissed this. “We’re dealing with a lot of different problems: informal settlers, relocations, getting them out of danger zones. The government is facing a number of problems and there are other issues we are focused on,” she said.

She denied the Palace had a hand in the revelation of his name in association with the scam. Instead, she challenged Revilla to reveal the identity of his source, who reportedly told him Malacañang was plotting against him.

Revilla attributes the supposed demolition job to the push for him to run for president in 2016, against the ruling Liberal Party’s likely candidate Mar Roxas.
 
“I understand that the senator mentioned that he has a source. We would appreciate it if that information was given to us because, certainly, that is not the case — that the demolition job came from us,” Valte said. – Rappler.com

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