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MANILA, Philippines – What if the Aquino administration’s list of lawmakers allegedly involved in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam does not include any of its allies?
Former senator and Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo “Ping” Lacson vowed he will not let the government get away with it.
On Wednesday, May 7, after apprising the media on rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda 6 months after it struck the Visayas, Lacson told reporters he will “call the attention of authorities” if the Department of Justice (DOJ) releases a sanitized list.
“If I see that it has been cleaned – if I have people on my list that is not included [in theirs] who happen to be allied with Malacañang – I will know that it’s been cleaned. Then I will come out,” he said in a mix of Filipino and English, responding to questions.
He also said there are more senators involved than what he had initially said. Earlier, Lacson said Napoles identified fewer than 19 senators but the number was enough to “reach a quorum.”
“What I said was wrong when I said ‘enough to constitute a quorum.’ Actually, [it’s] enough to ratify a treaty,” he said.
The number of senators required to ratify a treaty is at least two-thirds of the total number of senators or 16. The minimum number required to constitute a quorum is 13.
Lacson is referring to the list that alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles had given to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. It is supposed to contain the names of all the lawmakers who worked with her in channeling their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to her bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in exchange for hefty kickbacks.
The scam is seen as the biggest corruption scandal in the Philippines in recent history.
De Lima has refused to release the list until it has been verified by her department.
But Lacson revealed he has his own list, claiming the Napoles camp first approached him last month to offer to “tell all” about the scam, even before De Lima met with the detained businesswoman on April 21.
Backed by evidence
Lacson however expressed confidence in De Lima and said he does not think she would clean up the list, “knowing her.”
He also shrugged off concerns that Napoles may be playing games on all of them. (READ: Napoles wants to be state witness – De Lima)
“She can play games for all I care; she’s the one in jail after all,” he sniped.
“I know how to evaluate documents. She cannot trick me because I really asked for documents. It cannot be say-so, it cannot be narration, it cannot be unsigned affidavits.”
Lacson said he asked for affidavits, exact special release allotment order (SARO) numbers and supporting documents.
“I wouldn’t just bite on the basis of a mere say-so by Napoles,” he said.
He also said he knew nothing about the list of Whistle Blowers Association president Sandra Cam, who earlier this week said there are about 100 legislators on a list given to her by an unimpeachable source, including 16 senators. Lacson denied the list came from him.
“I don’t know where that [list] came from….We’ve never talked about the list,” he said.
Lacson previously confirmed that Napoles mentioned more names not previously brought up in the scam, including “noisy” lawmakers criticizing those already implicated.
He also confirmed Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, who now face plunder charges for their alleged involvement along with Napoles, are on the list.
Meanwhile, De Lima promised she would not sanitize the list and asked the public for patience as her department vets the names implicated by Napoles to make sure they are backed up by documentary evidence.
Napoles had approached both Lacson and De Lima to confess everything she knows before undergoing surgery, reportedly out of fear that something might happen to her during her procedure. – Rappler.com