Minority bloc pushes pork scam probe
Published : Thursday, May 15, 2014 00:00
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THE Independent Minority bloc, led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, has joined other lawmakers in urging Speaker Feliciano Belmonte to open an investigation into the pork barrel scam as one way to save the image of the House of Representatives.
Romualdez said a separate congressional inquiry will end the confusion triggered by so many lists of lawmakers implicated in the pork barrel anomaly.
“If we want to be enlightened, we should investigate and call Mrs. Napoles. She is the only competent person who can attest to the veracity and truthfulness of the list. That is the only honest to goodness way to conduct the probe, otherwise we will continue to confuse the public and we are not helping ferreting out the truth,” Romualdez, a lawyer, pointed out.
However, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. has expressed fear that Napoles may only invoke her right to be silent.
“Calling Napoles is a good proposal, but she may just invoke her right against self-incrimination. While I believe that her affidavit is tantamount to waiving her right against self-incrimination, she may still maintain her silence,” Barzaga said.
The so-called pork barrel list would be useless and not credible if Napoles will not attest to it.
House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora stated this yesterday, as he reiterated the need for the House of Representatives to have a separate inquiry into the pork barrel scam, especially because some of its members were allegedly involved in the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) anomaly.
According to Zamora, it would be best if alleged mastermind, Napoles will testify in the congressional inquiry to state whether the list submitted by rehabilitation czar Secretary Panfilo Lacson is authentic or not.
Zamora added that neither Lacson nor Justice Secretary Leila de Lima should declare the list as authentic because they are just the recipients of the lists.
Meanwhile, 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III slammed the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by administration ally Sen. Teofisto Guingona, Jr. for accepting the affidavit from Lacson, which had not been signed by Napoles.
“With due respect to the Senate Blue Ribbon, this list should not be submitted by Secretary Lacson. It is not signed, it has no probative value. In short, it should be treated as a mere scrap of paper,” Bello said, adding that the Guingona panel should not accept either the documents with De Lima if not signed.