Probe on WB loan to SC tricky

Ayee Macaraig
Sen. Panfilo Lacson recommends that a separate probe on the matter be held after the impeachment trial

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Panfilo Lacson expressed reservations about a proposed Senate probe into the Supreme Court’s alleged misuse of a loan from the World Bank. Lacson is concerned the probe will affect the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. 

Lacson was reacting to the plan of Sen. Franklin Drilon to file a resolution calling on the Senate’s Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures to look into the World Bank report. Rappler reported on Friday, January 13, that the WB asked the SC to return US$199,000 (P8.6-M) in “ineligible” funds by the end of January. The international group said the high court spent this on activities and projects not covered by a loan agreement between both parties.
 
“Inevitably, CJ Corona is at the center of the issue,” said Lacson. “The [committee] chairman has to define the rules very clearly because so that what will be tackled there will be without prejudice to the impeachment trial,” Lacson said in Filipino. 
 
“But it’s hard to attend that because you know in investigations, anything goes. My concern is that we might sound prosecutorial and being senator-judges, that’s not good.”
 
Lacson said should there be a probe, it can be conducted after the impeachment trial. If not, the committee must clearly define the scope of the investigation to avoid affecting the trial. 
 
The senator also refused to speculate on the timing of the release of the report to the media amid speculation it was related to the impeachment trial. 
 
“In the first place, it was the World Bank that released the report. You cannot stop the media [from reporting] because that’s the issue. How can you control the media if they want to release details on the loan?” – Rappler.com