Friday, March 28, 2014

Serge accuses Noynoy of pork scam cover-up

By Angie M. Rosales
The Daily Tribune
A cover-up is what President Aquino, ordering a Palace probe on alleged pork barrel scam involving an agency directly under the Office of the President amounted to, according to an erstwhile staunch Palace ally Sen. Sergio Osmeña III yesterday as he raised serious mistrust over Aquino’s pronouncements.
“I don’t like that idea and I’m just suspicious of it. Why would he ask Peter to investigate Paul? Get an outsider to investigate it if he really wants,” he said.
Osmeña criticized Aquino’s directive to concerned officials such as Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras to look into the Commission on Audit (CoA) findings on National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and submit to him a comprehensive report on the issue.
Aquino said he already ordered an investigation even before the concerned officials could give their answers to the issue.
“They will just cover up their own (tracks). How will you ask Abad, suppose Abad was the one who released the money?” Osmeña pointed out.
Some P515 million of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of some lawmakers that was coursed through the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), an agency under the Office of the President in 2012, was distributed to 18 alleged bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) identified with Janet Lim Napoles.
The CoA said P25 million of the fund releases allegedly came from the Palace’s equally controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the bulk was from the PDAF of some senators and congressmen, reports said.
Osmeña, who last week called President Aquino “an awful manager”, said the move of the Chief Executive is another proof of an “awful management” style being displayed by the present administration.
“What does it say? It means there’s corruption regardless of how honest PNoy (Aquino) is. It’s a matter of management. If you don’t put a proper management controls in place, these things will always happen. Even on ordinary corporations, if you don’t have the right auditing procedures, control procedures you will get scammed,” he said.
“Why would they be the ones to investigate? Why don’t they call the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation)? No, they should not be the ones, they’re not investigators. That bothers me because they’re not investigators. There’s a way to investigate these things. Here in the Senate most senators are having a hard time because we’re not trained investigators. If you give it to the NBI, they can do things in one week which can take me one to two months to do, if at all,” Osmeña said.
The government also opposed a petition of key whistleblower Benhur Luy to lift a freeze order in his accounts citing his immunity from criminal prosecution thus exposing many of his and Luy’s relatives unexplained assets.
Luy through his lawyer argued that being a government witness his assets cannot be subjected to forfeiture.
Among those the government ordered held were Luy’s bank accounts with the Bank of the Philippine Islands with account/policy number 4034-0090-61 with a deposit of $15,008.90; a Metrobank account with P2,867.79 deposit and two separate accounts in Metrobank and the United Coconut Planters Bank; a 2007 model Eastworld Mox Motorcycle; a 2010 Mitsubishi Montero Sport G and a 2004 model Toyota Corolla Altis.
The government said Luy’s assets are not immune from civil forfeiture proceeding. “Benefits under the Witness Protection Program may only be invoked in criminal proceedings while the forfeiture case is civil in nature,” Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said.
Also ordered held was an account of Arthur Luy, a brother of Benhur, who works as a seaman.
He said as a seafarer, he earns $7,000 monthly to justify the amount deposited but the Solicitor General said Oste Crewing Philippines Allotment Slip showed that his monthly income is only $3,483.
“This cannot explain the huge amounts transacted in Arthur Luy’s account during the material dates of the pork barrel scam that reached up to P1 million in one banking day,” Jardeleza said.
Funds in Benhur Luy’s mother, Gertrudes, was also traced from Micro-Agri Business Citizens Initiative Foundation Inc which is among the non-government organizations (NGOs) of pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles.
The senator said it will only take a single member of either the Senate or the House of Representatives for Congress to get into the picture and dip its fingers into the affairs of the Executive and its attached offices.
“It depends on the individual congressman or senator because it takes only one senator or congressman to file a resolution calling for an investigation (on the issue),” Osmeña said.

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