MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Franklin Drilon may not have been included in the version of the Napoles list with Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson but a day after that was made public, another list named the Senate chief.
Drilon though was quick to respond to his inclusion in the list of lawmakers that principal whistleblower Benhur Luy said had transactions with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
The Senate President said that the Luy list – which stated that he was allocated P5 million as head of the Commission on Appointments (CA) in 2005 – was illogical and baseless. Luy’s list was revealed in a report of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“How could that happen when the Commission on Appointments has no allocation? And perhaps Mrs Napoles or Luy were not undergoing confirmation that time because they are not government officials,” Drilon said on radio dzRH on Wednesday, May 14.
The CA is a bicameral body tasked with vetting high-level appointments of the President for checks and balances. The Senate President acts as the chairman of the powerful 25-member body.
Drilon cited Luy’s statement that he never got kickbacks.
“What they said was I had an allocation but they did not say I received it. Not one SARO [special allotment release order] or any piece of paper, they can show,” Drilon added.
The Senate President was responding to the report, which also said that one of the letters in Luy’s files showed that Drilon wrote to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on November 22, 2011, and requested for P100 million financial assistance to be coursed through Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes.
“But according to Luy, speaking through his lawyer, Raji Mendoza, ‘the letter was drafted but no transactions took place, as far as his recollection’ was concerned,” the Inquirer report stated.
Drilon highlighted this. “Luy himself said they made a letter but I do not know who drafted or wrote it, but no transaction took place. It means there was no transaction, and more importantly, I did not receive any money.”
A stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), Drilon was first dragged into the pork barrel scam last year when photos of him with Napoles surfaced. He denied transacting with Napoles, and said he only met her in social functions “less than 10 times.”
Drilon also denied knowing about reports that Napoles contributed to the LP campaign in 2013. He was then the party’s campaign manager.
Napoles faces plunder charges for allegedly conniving with top executive and legislative officials to funnel their pork barrel funds to her bogus non-governmental organizations. She has given a “tell-all” to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and named the officials she transacted with, months after denying knowledge of the scam.
Binay: Blue ribbon report inconclusive
With the Senate set to continue its investigation into the pork barrel scam, minority senator Nancy Binay refused to sign the blue ribbon committee report recommending plunder charges against her colleagues.
Binay wrote committee chairman Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III on Monday to say she will not join the initial list of 13 senators who endorsed the report against Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.
"The report, as it is, is incomplete and far from comprehensive. It did not cover all bases in its probe of the pork-barrel scam before making any recommendation. Also, the so-called 'Napoles list' implicating more senators underscores the incompleteness of the report and the need to reopen the probe," Binay said.
Binay reiterated her stand that the investigation must include the over 70 NGOs not linked to Napoles but named in the Commission on Audit (COA) report.
She also pointed out that the committee and the budget department have yet to comply with her request for documents supporting the COA report.
"While I appreciate the initiative of the Committee and the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) in submitting a validation report, the document submitted is not responsive to my previous requests," she said.
Binay added that the Senate should look into the “numerous conflicting statements, positions, and claims that the resource persons said during the Senate hearings.” She said the committee even noted these inconsistencies in the draft report.
"I find it more imperative for the Committee and for each of its members to act in a more judicious and comprehensive manner by obtaining and reviewing pertinent government records (including those that I had requested) and expanding the coverage of the inquiry to include not only 3 Senators but all persons identified in the COA Special Audit Report," Binay said.
Yet even without Binay’s signature, more than a majority of the committee members of 13 senators already signed the committee report, which means it can be sponsored before the floor.