Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Gordon, Pangilinan want Senate jueteng probe to end

By Efren L. Danao, MT Senior Reporter

THE Senate majority leader, Francis Pangilinan, and Sen. Richard Gordon said Friday that the Senate investigation into the proliferation of jueteng in the country should now end.

The investigation, conducted by the Senate Committees on Public Order and Illegal Drugs and Games, Sports and Amusement, had presented four witnesses who have linked the President’s husband, Mike Arroyo, his son Rep. Mikey Arroyo of Pampanga, brother-in-law Rep. Ignacio Arroyo of Negros Occidental and other prominent government personalities and the Philippine National Police to the illegal numbers game.

Against the wishes of some senators who want the Senate inquiry on jueteng conducted everyday, Sen. Manny Villar, chair of the Committee on Public Order, has suspended the hearings for two weeks to give the committee staff “a chance to rest.”

Villar said the inquiry will resume on June 24.

All of the persons linked to jueteng claimed innocence and decried that they were being tried by publicity by witnesses using hearsay.

Pangilinan said that after Thursday’s hearing, there seemed to be enough testimonies to enable the two committees to make a recommendation.

“Our economy is hurting because of too much politicking, because of this feeding frenzy and our focus on scandal and controversy,” he added.

Pangilinan stressed that terminating the investigation should not be construed as an attempt to shield anyone.

“To terminate the Senate hearings does not preclude the Ombudsman or the Department of Justice from digging deeper and looking into the involvement of personalities,” he said.

He pointed out that the Senate is not a law-enforcement agency and does not have the means and the authority to determine criminal liability.

“The Senate legislates, the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman prosecute. If all entities stick to their constitutional mandates, we will be a more effective constitutional democracy,” Pangilinan said.

Gordon likened the jueteng investigation to a “soap opera.”

“It was very entertaining, but there was no solid evidence to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, which is needed to prosecute,” he said.

Gordon warned that “this soap opera” could erode the national integrity. Since the committees have gathered enough testimonies, it is time for the Senate to decide whether or not to legalize jueteng.

“We should now harness the money that is going to the pockets of a few,” he argued.

He said that the hearing has tainted the integrity of a number of persons without proof.

“There should be a quantum of evidence, not perceptions or hearsays,” he said.

Gordon also wondered why the weekly deposits of jueteng payola amounting to P875,500 in the bank accounts of witness Sandra Cam were not reported to the Antimoney Laundering Council. The Antimoney Laundering Law provides for the automatic reporting of any single bank transaction of at least P500,000.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago had warned the two committees against conducting quasi-judicial proceedings in their investigation


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