How Senate missed chance to probe Napoles
by David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 07/15/2013 8:36 PM | Updated as of 07/15/2013 11:16 PM
MANILA - Janet Lim-Napoles, who is accused of masterminding a scandal involving billions in pork barrel funds, was already summoned to a Senate investigation on the P728 million fertilizer fund scandal in 2006.
However, senators failed to investigate Napoles because Malacañang barred government officials and other resource persons from attending the probe.
Speaking to radio dzMM, former Sen. Ramon "Jun" Magsaysay Jr. said Napoles had been lined up to face the Senate agriculture committee investigation on the fertilizer fund scam after her trading firm, JLN Corp., was identified as one of the suppliers of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
"She was not summoned to the first five hearings but on the 6th one, which was supposed to be on February 25, (2006), na kasama siya, walang dumating because of Executive Order 464 from Malacañang," he said.
"Dinagdagan daw ng memorandum statement...so hindi natawag yung JLN," he added.
Executive Order 464, issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on September 26, 2005, barred Cabinet members, police and military generals, senior national security officials, and other top officials from attending congressional hearings without the President's consent.
The order effectively stopped Congress from investigating the alleged diversion of P728 million in fertilizer funds that were allegedly used for Mrs. Arroyo's presidential campaign in 2004.
Magsaysay said he decided to end the investigation and submit the findings to the Ombudsman because of EO 464. It was only after former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, the alleged mastermind of the fertilizer fund scam, returned to the country in 2009 that the Senate reopened the probe.
Even then, it had to take a new Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio Morales, to file charges against individuals linked to the fertilizer fund scam on November 2011.
Magsaysay said the new scandal allegedly involving billions of pesos in lawmaker's pork barrel funds going to dummy non-government organizations shows that the government is too slow in implementing change.
He said that during the fertilizer fund scam probe, his committee had recommended that the DA do an inventory and list down all farmers in the country "because the DA said nobody knew."
"I think some people are making it complicated, not the agency, so that the funds will go to NGOs and create layers. The thing is to simplify the disbursement of funds to the farmers," he said.
He said the same scam is also being done by pharmaceutical entities who offer kickbacks to politicians.