MANILA, Philippines – What will the Senate do about the controversial Napoles list that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima continues to refuse to make public?
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III announced that the chamber will finally meet to discuss the list of 16 senators and over 100 lawmakers alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles supposedly implicated.
I will call a Senate caucus on Monday regarding the Napoles list. Likewise the Blue Ribbon will begin the hearing of the Malampaya Fund Scam— Senator TG Guingona (@TgGuingona) May 9, 2014
Weeks after his colleagues called for the release of the list, Guingona took to Twitter to say it is about time the Senate tackles the issue.
“I will call a Senate caucus on Monday regarding the Napoles list. Likewise, the Blue Ribbon will begin the hearing of the Malampaya Fund scam,” he said in a tweet posted on Friday, May 9.
Guingona initially said he will wait for De Lima to evaluate the testimony of Napoles before deciding whether or not to call for a hearing. Napoles made a sudden turnaround and “tell all” in April following months of denying involvement in the scam.
Yet in past weeks, his colleagues including Senators Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Antonio Trillanes IV and Grace Poe urged De Lima to release the list even without verifying its contents. Some of them also called for Napoles to be summoned back to the Senate.
De Lima stood firm on her refusal to release the list pending verification, saying only the Senate can compel her to make it public. She said if compelled, she will even appeal to the senators to give her time to finish vetting the list.
Some senators argued though that there is no need to verify the list, and keeping it secret only raises public speculation that the administration is “sanitizing” it. Reports said top administration allies were included in the list.
Napoles faces plunder charges for allegedly orchestrating a scheme where she connived with top lawmakers to funnel their pork barrel funds to her fake non-governmental organizations.
Her co-accused are opposition senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile. They allegedly received millions of pesos in kickbacks from the ghost projects.
Malampaya probe to start
The second part of Guingona’s announcement responded to the call of Senator Estrada for the committee to investigate the P900 million Malampaya fund scam.
Napoles’ aides-turned-whistleblowers said Napoles’ NGOs also cornered revenues from the Malampaya natural gas project off Palawan allocated for the Department of Agrarian Reform. The funds were intended for farmers who were typhoon victims.
Guingona has long announced that his committee will also investigate the scam after wrapping up its probe on the pork barrel controversy.
Estrada called for the inquiry into the Malampaya scam after the Ombudsman decided to grant immunity to bagman-turned-whistleblower Ruby Tuason in the pork barrel case.
Tuason allegedly got the biggest cut in the Malampaya scam worth P242 million. Yet she said it was her late brother who knew about it. – Rappler.com