BAYAN MUNA Representative Neri Colmenares today urged the government to hasten its investigation in light of the growing list of parties involved in the pork barrel scam by having a joint Department of Justice (DOJ)-Ombudsman investigation.
He also proposed conducting the DOJ-Ombudsman hearings in public, similar to congressional investigations and urged citizens to actively participate in the investigation to avoid chances of a whitewash.
“The number of NGOs and legislators reportedly involved in the pork barrel scam suddenly ballooned after the recent COA report. This means it will take some time for the DOJ to investigate these parties after which they will file the complaint with the Ombudsman. I propose a joint DOJ- Ombudsman investigation since the DOJ will ultimately have to file this with the Ombudsman anyway. This will not only hasten investigation but also lessen suspicions that the DOJ investigation will attempt to exonerate allies of Malacanang” said Rep. Colmenares.
“Otherwise, the investigation process will be repeated by the Ombudsman after the DOJ files its complaint before it once their investigation is completed. Considering that even the Sandiganbayan is not fully organized yet, it will take years before we see the end of this issue if we don’t hasten the investigation. The pork barrel scam could go the way of the Ampatuan trial,” the progressive solon added.
Colmenares also demanded the investigations to be public and urged citizens to take active part in the investigation and monitor its actions in order to ensure a fair and objective result.
“The joint DOJ-Ombudsman investigation must be public and transparent because of the huge national interest involved and, to avoid fueling suspicion that it will absolve allies of Malacanang. That investigation is of course without prejudice to the impending congressional investigation, by nature a public proceeding, which is not intended for criminal prosecution but in aid of legislation. This way the public remains well informed.” said Rep. Colmenares.
“The people should form abolition of pork barrel networks which should monitor the proceedings. We are happy that the UP faculty has formed its anti-pork group, and we encourage more sectors and peoples organizations to do the same,” he added.
“Based on the reports coming out, it is clear that the pork barrel system is inherently anomalous and no amount of regulation will cure that. Many regulations have been invented including the latest mechanism of limiting pork projects to a list of menus but to no avail. The Napoles scam was exposed because of the greedy means with which the funds were stolen—100% non delivery of supplies through fake NGOs and beneficiaries. And yet it took ten years to expose this simple and outrageously blatant robbery. Had they actually established these NGOs and delivered at least half of the projects to real beneficiaries they would still have earned billions and not get caught,” said Rep. Colmenares.
“Blacklisting NGOs is useless because all that a corrupt official will do is to organize another NGO. More importantly, even if pork barrel is not used in corruption, it is still anomalous because it is used in patronage politics and favoring allies of the pork holder.
“The pork barrel system is inherently anomalous and it has to be abolished. Legislators were not elected by the people to build basketball courts, or waiting sheds or deodorize trash. We were elected to pass laws that will benefit the people as a whole. We can abolish pork and deliver the funds directly to medical and educational needs of the people. The difference is they can access it directly without asking permission from a senator or a congressman. After all, these are the peoples’ funds anyway, and they have the right to access it directly without asking for our blessings,” Colmenares said.