Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s privilege speech proved to be the hold that let the cat out of the bag. The mystery of the P50 Million ‘incentive’ is now starting to unravel, from a mere coffee shop talk to a full-blown controversy, yet another one offshoot of the pork barrel scandal.
Sen. Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson confirmed in a national broadsheet (Phil. Daily Inquirer) that there was indeed an incentive amounting to P50 Million pesos distributed to senators who voted in favor of impeaching then Chief Justice Renato Corona. Although he, himself did not receive the said dole out.
He added that the announcement was done in a caucus called after Corona was convicted. He clarified however that he has no idea who received the money and who did not.
He also denied of any knowledge of the ‘private and confidential’ letter shown by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada during the privilege speech but he confirmed the P50 Million pesos.
Lacson maintained that he continued to refuse any form of extra fund ‘in any form or for whatever purpose’ including the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and he remembered declining openly the incentive in the said caucus.
Sen. Lacson is one of only two senators who never partake in the P200 Million pork barrel chunks allowed for each member of the senate, with Sen. Joker Arroyo being the other.
Lacson was one of the 20 senators who voted in favour of impeaching Corona in May 2012.
Drilon denies allegation
Senate President Franklin Drilon refuted all allegations that he, together with the DBM, initiated the distribution of the P50 Million cash incentives to senators who voted to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona.
In the privilege speech Wednesday, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada mentioned;
After the conviction of the former Chief Justice, those who voted to convict were allotted an additional 50 million pesos as provided in a private and confidential letter memorandum of the then chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
However, Drilon was quick to deny that such an incident happened and maintained that the lawmakers voted with impartiality and according to their own conscience and judgement. He further clarified that he has yet to see the letter mentioned by Estrada.
In the interpellations by both Sen. Enrile and Sen. Drilon, Estrada categorically stated that the said additional amount was not a bribe.
‘That was not a bribe. It was never a bribe.’
Sen. Franklin Drilon is the current Vice Chairman of Liberal Party, the ruling party where President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III serves as the Titular Head and Party Chairman. DBM Sec. Florencio Abad is also a member and had served as its previous party president in 1999-2004.