MANILA, Philippines – After repeated postponements, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will finally begin its probe into the P900-million ($19.9 million*) Malampaya fund scam on December 1, the office of the committee chairman announced on Thursday, November 6.
The office of Senator Teofisto Guingona III also said that the Blue Ribbon committee will start its inquiry into the alleged overpriced Iloilo Convention Center on November 13.
The committee was supposed to begin its probe into the Malampaya scam as early as May, but Guingona postponed it because of the unavailability of resource persons, and to give way to preparations for the World Economic Forum.
In September, the committee again deferred the probe on the ground that Commission on Audit (COA) chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan and special audit team leader Susan Garcia were on official trips abroad during the hearing date.
The opposition had criticized the deferment of the probe, saying it did not match the observed zeal of the committee in its inquiry into the pork barrel scam which pinned down Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
The Malampaya fund scam involves allocations for the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), a huge part of which was siphoned off by Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam which is known as the biggest corruption scandal in recent Philippine history.
In 2009, Napoles allegedly obtained P900 million of the Malampaya fund from DAR for the ghost projects of her bogus non-governmental organizations. (READ: How the Malampaya fund was plundered)
On October 29, criminal and administrative charges were filed against Senate President Franklin Drilon before the Office of the Ombudsman over the alleged overpriced P679.8-million ($15.21 million*) Iloilo Convention Center.
Named co-respondents are officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways led by Secretary Rogelio Singson, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr, and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) chief Mark Lapid. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P45
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