Press Release
August 3, 2013

Cayetano calls for an open and transparent probe on the PDAF scam;
urges public to take part of the reform process

Senate Majority floor leader Alan Cayetano has called for an open and transparent probe on the alleged corruption in the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

"What we want is a full, independent, and honest investigation that is open to the public. So far, the NBI is doing a great job but we need to engage the people more and make them part of reform process since it is their money we are talking about," he said in a press conference held last Friday.

The Senator gave his full support to the investigations being conducted by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Ombudsman adding that this will ensure an independent and credible inquiry into these types of allegations.

Cayetano however stressed the importance of granting media access and encouraging people participation in these investigations concerning allegations of high public interest similar to how the Department of Justice (DOJ) publicly investigated the 2010 Luneta hostage crisis incident.

"Any case with high public interest such as this where the people's money is being talked about, the people should be part of the reform process rather than just being aware of the result," he said.

Cayetano said that media will play a crucial role in pushing for reforms in government. "If they are part of the investigations and are able to cover, they will not only be narrators to the public, they will also be insiders to investigators given their innate capability to do their own research," he added.

The Majority Leader also reiterated his call to fellow legislators to cooperate in the investigation being conducted by the NBI by being transparent and opening their books to the assigned authorities in order to resolve this issue immediately and eventually focus more on pressing legislative matters.

He said that an investigation conducted by the Senate on itself would not be as credible and convincing to the people. "First, there is less credibility if we just investigate ourselves. Second, this will keep our focus away from our daily responsibilities related to legislation," he added.

Cayetano however said that he is open to a Senate-initiated investigation on the PDAF scam if there comes a point that the NBI and Ombudsman fail to shed light on these accusations and eventually hold people accountable for wrongdoings.

"I see that that the NBI and the Office of the Ombudsman are doing good. But if there comes a point where we see that they are not doing their job, I will be one of the first to propose that we conduct an investigation of our own," he said.

Cayetano said it is crucial that corruption cases be filed against erring officials involved in these anomalies in order to fully reform the bureaucracy and rid government agencies from any semblance of corruption or fund misuse.

"Conducting an investigation is a first step but we also need to reform faulty systems in government to stop the cycle of graft and corruption and ensure that our projects benefit the people," he said.

The senator stressed that it is not necessary that the whole PDAF system be abolished just to rid out corruption. Instead, he recommended the abolition of PDAF projects that are being commonly used in anomalies.

"Not necessarily abolish PDAF as a whole, but abolish PDAF projects that are corruption prone such as items that are hard to account if these benefited the people," he said.

Cayetano suggested that rather than using PDAF for items like fertilizers or deodorizers, it would be better if government focus the funds on medical assistance or educational grants since these types of 'soft projects' go straight to an institution or directly to the beneficiary.

"If the system is broken, let us fix it (referring to the PDAF scam). Let us remove the corruption but not the benefits to our people. We should make sure that the people still gets the immediate benefits from these programs," he said.

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