Monday, March 24, 2014

COA Chair warned vs. accepting SC justice post

The prosecution of government officials involved in the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam will be jeopardized in the event that Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan quits her post to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of Dasmarinas, a lawyer, made the warning in light of the nomination of Tan to be the 15th High Court magistrate since Supreme Court Associate Justice Roberto Abad will retire by May 22.
“Her resignation from COA will definitely affect the prosecution of those involved in the pork barrel scam. Likewise, the changes she initiated in the COA might become futile. In the interest of public accountability by public officials, the COA Chairperson should complete her term before she entertains the idea of accepting any other government position,” Barzaga, Chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusements, pointed out.
Barzaga was referring to the COA’s crucial role in the expose on PDAF scam, considering that it was during Tan’s leadership that the COA came up with a report on lawmakers who funneled their PDAF to questionable, if not fake non-government organizations, thus resulting in wastage of government resources.
So far, the Department of Justice has filed plunder and other plunder-related charges to 38 people in connection with the P10 billion PDAF mess wherein state funds were allegedly siphoned off by lawmakers and bogus entities owned by Janet Napoles. Of the 38 charged, three are Senators, namely: Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.
Tan was appointed to her post by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2011. Her term will expire on February 2, 2015.
Likewise, Tan is an integral part of the Inter-Agency on Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) which probes the liability of government officials, if there are any, in connection to depositing PDAF money to questionable entities. The other leaders of the IAAGCC are Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
“She strongly stated that the commission’s commitment is to strengthen its relationship with various stakeholders, increase transparency and accountability in government, make things right in the matter of how the people’s money is being spent and work relentlessly, courageously and competently. Accepting a nomination to be a Justice of the Supreme Court might amount to a disservice to the nation,” Barzaga argued in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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