House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Wednesday urged the Department of Justice to “double check and assess thoroughly” accusations of corruption aired against several congressmen by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.
Romualdez’s call differed with that of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco who wanted the Office of the Ombudsman to look into the PACC report that was submitted to President Duterte.
However, the two House leaders agree that PACC has failed to accord the solons due process before implicating them to alleged graft and corrupt practices in the implementation of infrastructure projects.
“Pursuant to due process, we believe that the matter should be brought before the Ombudsman, given the limited jurisdiction of the PACC over officials in the Executive Branch, and not those in the legislature,” Velasco said in a press statement.
In a separate release to the news media, Romualdez lauded President Duterte for his decision to direct the DOJ to start an investigation into allegations of corruption “in the entire government.” “In line with the President’s directive, it is now the duty of the DOJ to give the legislators named in the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission’s (PACC) list the proper forum to face their accusers and defend themselves,” said Romualdez.
“We are hopeful that the DOJ will double-check and assess thoroughly the list submitted by the PACC to President Duterte, to verify which of these charges have basis and which are mere products of the imaginative minds of rival politicians,” he said.
The administration lawmaker added: “We do not wish that the President’s war against corruption get sidetracked by polluted sources who are engaged in local partisan politics.”
Four of the lawmakers implicated by the PACC to alleged corrupt practices have blamed local politics as being behind the commission’s accusation.
Reps. Eric Go Yap (ACT-CIS Partylist); Helen Tan (NPC, Quezon); Alyssa Sheena Tan (NUP, Isabela) and Josephine Sato (NP, Mindoro Occidental) did not name their local detractors but insisted that PACC’s action was tainted with politics.
Yap, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, was assigned as caretaker of the lone congressional district of Benguet as a result of the death of the elected Rep. Nestor Fongwan last year.
The partylist solon has revealed plans to challenge political leaders in Benguet in the 2022 congressional polls.
Tan, on the other hand, is a third-term House member who is expected to run against incumbent Quezon Gov. Danilo Suarez.
However, this early, Tan’s gubernatorial bid is being tainted with accusations of graft even before the PACC report came out.
Last October, Councilor Arkie Manuel Yulde filed before the Ombudsman administrative and criminal charges against Tan’s husband, Director Ronnel Tan of the Department of Public Works and Highways, for allegedly tossing money estimated to be from P2 to P3 million at a party the couple hosted in Quezon.
Yulde had also asked the DOJ Task Force Against Corruption to investigate Rep. Tan in connection with allegations that a family-owned hospital benefited from the highly questionable interim reimbursement mechanism implemented by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
The PACC has linked the Quezon solon to alleged irregularities linked to the implementation of the Gumaca Bypass Road project.
Rep. Alyssa Sheena Tan of Isabela denied claims by the PACC that she owns a construction firm that bagged rich infrastructure projects of the DPWH.
Meanwhile, Sato accused PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica of being motivated with politics when he linked her to construction project irregularities. She said Belgica is a good friend of one of the prominent political families in Mindoro Occidental whom she will run against in the 2022 polls.