Lacson: Thank God for Whistleblowers like Fr. Panlilio

With honest and decent local officials like Pampanga Gov. Fr. Ed Panlilio, there’s hope for the government after all.

On this note, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson lauded Gov. Panlilio for his honesty in spilling the beans on the payoffs Malacañang gave to local officials at a meeting last week, even as he urged other recipients to be decent enough to give taxpayers an accounting of the distributed money. 

“Now we see hope as we wish that there were more Gov. Panlilios – truthful and decent enough to give us, the taxpayers of this country, an accounting of the monies distributed by Malacañang, obviously in connection with the recent threat to impeach the President,” he said.

Lacson said that with no less than the local head of President Arroyo’s home province baring the details, he will file a resolution on Monday seeking a Senate investigation into the matter.

He will also inquire into the source of the funds before the plenary once the P1.227-trillion proposed budget for 2008 reaches the Senate for deliberation.

“Now that a governor, no less than the local head of the President’s home province, has provided firsthand public testimony that money changed hands, it is appropriate to determine where the money came from. If it was from the personal funds of Mrs. Arroyo, there should be an explanation of its source in her income tax returns (ITR) and Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN),” he said.

But if the funds were public money as Fr. Panlilio believes so, Lacson said Malacañang should show transparency by coming out with the appropriate disbursement vouchers, and disclosing where the distributed money was sourced from.

He also dared Malacañang to show its “transparency” by cooperating this time, instead of invoking “executive privilege.”

“Malacañang is so fond of saying it is transparent, it should at least give us the list of local officials present at that meeting. We can invite them to the investigation. If they want to deny the allegations, they can do so. If they want to lie under oath, it’s up to them,” he said.

Lacson lamented that until Gov. Panlilio’s disclosure, the government has shown itself to be a giant criminal syndicate, complete with omerta (code of silence) and intimidation of potential whistleblowers, as in the case of former socio-economic planning secretary Romulo Neri.

“Sec. Neri did not ask for it but he was given so-called security aides. Yet the aides are not there to secure him but to keep an eye on him to make sure he does not spill the beans on the $329.5-million ZTE broadband network deal mess,” he said.