SENATOR JV Ejercito Estrada has filed a resolution calling on President Benigno Aquino III to instead create an “independent” probe body to investigate the pork barrel scandal.
Under Senate Resolution 204, JV also said the independent probe should not be limited to the incumbency of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but from the time President Aquino assumed office after the 2010 presidential elections.
“There is a need for an independent body dedicated solely to investigate and find out the truth concerning misuse of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo covering the year 2001 to 2010 and furthermore, for the period covering the year 2010 to 2013,” JV said.
The wider scope of the investigation proposed by JV runs counter to the position of President Aquino’s allies in the chamber, headed by Senate President Franklin Drilon, to limit all probes to the period 2007 to 2009, the last years of Arroyo’s presidency and which was the subject of a special audit report by the Commission on Audit (COA).
In a talk with this reporter, JV expressed apprehension over the probe of the scandal thru a special, inter-agency, “anti-graft and corruption council” created by Aquino and consisting of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice and the Commission on Audit.
“Mahirap na… baka kapag kakampi nila (administration), ‘diinan,’ kapag naman kakampi, absuwelto,” JV told People’s Tonight.
Under his proposal, JV said the independent body’s integrity and autonomy would be ensured with the appointment of persons with “unquestionable integrity and probity” coming from the judiciary, business sector, religious sector, academe, civil society, mass media and the COA.
Meanwhile, Senate finance committee chair Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero expects the list of ‘resource persons’ to increase in the coming days as the Senate blue ribbon committee under Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona formally starts its investigation of the issue today.
For today’s hearing, only officials of the Commission on Audit (COA) headed by chairperson Grace Pulido Tan are expected to attend to answer questions from lawmakers.