House leadership scrapped move to probe members --Cayetano

The House of the Representatives was supposed to investigate claims of corruption against some of its members until the new leadership blocked the plan, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano claimed on Friday, January 1.

Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN / FILE PHOTO)

The former head of the lower chamber took a swipe at his successor, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, after President Duterte named recently a few incumbent and former congressmen who were allegedly involved in anomalous infrastructure projects according to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

"I expect more names to be named because there are a lot of names circulating. I’m just disappointed that naunahan pa ng Presidente (the President revealed it first)," Cayetano said in an interview with reporters in Taguig City when asked to comment about Duterte's speech last December 28.

"Actually, bago naalis si Mike Defensor at si Jonathan Alvarado, ‘yan ay iimbestigahan na (before Mike Defensor and  Jonathan Alvarado were removed from being committee chairmen, those were set to be investigated). Pero ‘yong bagong liderato ng House pinigilan ‘yon, sinabi, 'Wag n’yo munang imbestigahan' (But the new House leadership blocked that and said, 'Don't investigate it yet)," he then claimed.

Cayetano was referring to his close allies, Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor and Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, who were both stripped of their chairmanships in the Committee on Public Accounts, and the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, respectively, following Velasco's assumption as Speaker.

To recall, Cayetano and Velasco figured in a feud last October after the former insisted to extend his term despite their term-sharing deal. After congressmen voted to oust him, Cayetano resigned from his post.

While saying that he is not concluding the innocence or guilt of the identified congressmen, Cayetano said Duterte's revelation should prompt the House leadership to act on the corruption claims against its members.

"Gan’on ang style ng Pangulo. ‘Pag sinabi niya halimbawa: 'Sa pulis may mga korap d’yan', ‘pag kumilos ang PNP, hihintayin niya. At ‘pag maganda ang resulta, okay; ‘pag hindi, siya mismo ang gagawa. Ganoon siya (That is the President's style. If he says for example: 'There are corrupt policemen', he will wait for the Philippine National Police to act. And if the results are good, then he is okay with it, but if not, he will be the one to deal with it. That's how he is)," he said.

"Delikado na ‘yong Executive Branch ang bumabanat sa Legislative kasi kailangan mo rin ng independent legislature, pero hindi mo naman pwedeng i-ignore ‘yong corruption lalo kung kuntsabahan ito between legislators ang the DPWH (It's dangerous when the executive branch criticizes the legislative branch because we need an independent legislature, but you cannot ignore corruption especially if this involves a connivance between legislators and the DPWH)."

"That’s why we want to have an honest to goodness investigation. Ang problema nga, pinigilan (The problem is, it was blocked)," Cayetano alleged.

Alluding to Velasco's appeal to the PACC, Cayetano said "it's not enough for the House to ask that the matter be given to Ombudsman."

Before reading the names in public, Duterte said the inclusion of congressmen in the PACC list does not mean “condemnation or indictment" and that they are still presumed innocent until proven otherwise.