NAME the congressmen or shut up!
A Visibly irked Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor challenged Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) member Grego Belgica to bare the identities of the members of the House he has been alleging to be involved in public works corruption.
“He should put up or shut up,” Defensor, chairman of the House committee on public accounts, said when asked for his comment about the disclosure of Belgica.
“To my recollection, this is the second time in recent months that he has made this allegation, although he refuses to name names, saying he does not have solid evidence to file cases,” Defensor said.
“If that is so, then he should just shut up. If he has evidence that can stand in court, he should file cases against the lawmakers he claims are involved in corruption,” he added.
According to Defensor, it is unfair to all congressmen and the House of Representatives as an institution for Belgica to allege that some lawmakers are involved in corruption
Defensor slammed Belgica for refusing to name the solons.
“If he cannot support what he is saying, then what is his purpose? To taint all House members and their institution and put them under a cloud of suspicion? We have been trying to improve the image of the House and he is tarnishing it,” he added.
He pointed out that Belgica’s job “is not to engage in trial by publicity but to gather evidence and build cases against corrupt officials and file them before the proper forum like the Department of Justice (DOJ) or Office of the Ombudsman.”
In a radio interview, Belgica said the names of the congressmen were mentioned in complaints about irregularities involving projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“This has to be investigated formally. We need solid documents. We need probably a forensic of the projects… All of these should be substantiated so a case can be filed…All of these have to be substantiated and validated, so that the cases can stand in court,” he said.
Defensor said Belgica himself is admitting that the evidence he has collected is not sufficient for the filing of charges against the House members allegedly involved in corruption.
He also asserted that his agency does not have jurisdiction over lawmakers and other elective officials.
“If that is so, why talk about this issue, titillate the imagination of the public and put all House members in bad light?” he asked.
He suggested that Belgica should turn over whatever formal complaints he has in his possession to the DOJ or the Ombudsman’s office, where preliminary investigations are mostly kept secret until charges are filed.
For his part, Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin also said the PACC should name the “less than 12” legislators allegedly involved in corruption activities alongside DPWH officials.
More importantly, Garbin said, evidence must be presented and cases must be filed.
“For one, we are all against corruption and if indeed true, then the corruption must end and those responsible must be held accountable.
More importantly, insinuations have no place in a democratic society. If indeed the PACC haas the smoking gun then they have to make it known. Insinuations without naming names and providing evidence would merely cast doubt on the integrity of Congress in the sphere of public opinion,” Garbin said.
“This is not healthy for congress as an institution. Mahirap pag puro chismis lang. The PACC should walk the talk.,” he added.