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Pork barrel scam issue should not end with Sandiganbayan conviction of Napoles - Zarate.

By Ellson Quismorio

Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate reckoned Friday that there should still be no closure on the billion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam despite the Sandiganbayan's affirmation of its conviction of pork barrel-scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

"Wala pa dapat closure, hindi pa tapos ito (There's should be no closure yet, this isn't finished)," said Zarate, who belongs to the militant Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives.

Pointing to the anti-graft court's affirmation of the Napoles's plunder conviction over the "pork barrel" scam earlier this month, Zarate said, "We welcome that. Nagpapatotoo ito na yung PDAF scam ay malawakan yung korapsyon doon at pagnanakaw sa very limited resources ng bayan."

(It proves the existence of large scale corruption and theft of the very limited resources of the country under the PDAF scam.)

But then the lawyer-congressman posed the question: "Bakit si Janet Lim Napoles lang ang nakakulong?" (Why is Janet Lim Napoles the only one behind bars?)

"Hindi mangyayari itong malawakang nakawan sa scam sa PDAF kung hindi nakipagsabwatan yung mga mambabatas (This wide-scale scam on PDAF wouldn't happen without the connivance of lawmakers)," Zarate stressed.

Discovered in 2013, the PDAF or pork barrel scam involved the funneling of solons' discretionary funds into bogus non-government organizations (NGO) for the implementation of equally bogus projects. The solons receive handsome kickbacks, at times half of the project's value.

Napoles made a business out of creating these NGOs--essentially by name only--in order to facilitate the transaction. The ensuing controversy was so huge that it eventually led to the declaration of PDAF as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC).

Zarate said that, as per the Commission on Audit (COA), Napoles only earned 10 percent from the total PDAF scam loot of P100 billion.

"Sabi ng COA P100 billion yun, yung parte ni Janet Lim Napoles doon ay P10 billion lang. Ibig sabihin kailangan imbestigahan pa natin, saan napunta yung P90 billion, sino ang mga operators dito at sino ang nakinabang dito sa scam na ito," the leftist congressman said.

(According to COA there was P100 billion involved, and Janet Lim Napoles's take was only P10 billion. This means that we still have to investigate where did the remaining P90 billion go, who were the operators and who ultimately benefitted from the scam.)

"What about the P90 billion? Hahayaan na lang natin yun? Hindi na natin hahabulin mga involved dito? (What about the P90 billion? Are we going to let that slide? Won't we go after those involved here?)," asked Zarate.

He underscored the importance of pursuing accountability as far as the pork barrel scam is concerned.

"Dapat maging accountable. Kung walang accountability, yung problema sa korapsyon ay tuloy-tuloy (The culprits should be made accountable. Without accountability, the problem of corruption will continue)," he said.


Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Party list Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Apr 19, 2019
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