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Poe, Escudero back reopening of pork barrel probe

MANILA, Philippines — Several Senators are inclined to seek another round of investigation on the pork barrel scam to identify those who could be behind the multibillion-peso anomaly other than businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

In separate radio interviews, Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero both expressed the need to put closure to the misuse of the defunct Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by getting to the bottom of the scandal, noting that the case involving Napoles comprised only less than half of the total amount that went to the pockets of unscrupulous public officials and their cohorts. 

Escudero said he favors a reopening of the Senate investigation, especially if the Department of Justice (DOJ) could present new evidence that would pin down other involved personalities. 

“Janet Napoles dealt with so many people, who have yet to be charged. So, the ball is in their (DOJ) court. I’m in favor of reopening the investigation in the DOJ or in the Senate but let’s also wait for the findings of the DOJ,” Escudero added. 

He explained that only P6 billion worth of pork has been investigated in relation to the case of Napoles while the Commission on Audit (COA) had reported that P13 billion to P14 billion of public funds were unaccounted for. 

For her part, Poe underscored the need to resolve the matter once and for all, adding that a number of personalities who have been previously named in past investigations have yet to come forward. 

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“If there are unresolved issues or new evidence, then it (scam) must be reinvestigated,” Poe said, noting that many other individuals profited from PDAF funds. 

The lawmakers were reacting to a call by former Makati vice mayor and Campaign for Public Accountability (CPA) convenor Bobby Brillante for the Senate to reopen its investigation into the pork barrel scandal, particularly the supposed involvement of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

 Brillante, also secretary general of the Kilusan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino, alleged that during the Aquino administration, the Senate “was bent on derailing the issues and covering up for some people (and) at the same time pin down the (members of the) opposition.” 

“Their investigation focused only on three opposition senators,” Brillante said. “This time around we hope that an investigation will produce a more complete picture of all those involved in the pork barrel scam.”

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