Senate to probe 'right-of-way' scam

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — A Senate panel is set to look into alleged graft and corruption involving right-of-way projects and Aquino Cabinet officials on Monday.

Senator Manny Pacquiao of the Committee of Public Works will chair the inquiry. In his resolution, he says there are reports that certain individuals submitted fake land titles of General Santos City in order to get payment for its right-of-way project.

Pacquiao said he is furious about the cases of false right-of-way claims in General Santos City, which cost the government ₱8.7 billion pesos in losses.

"I'm very disappointed with these public officials, who are nothing more than mere scammers, magnanakaw, kurakot (thieves, corrupt politicians)," the senator said in his privilege speech on November 5.

On November 27, the Justice Department presented a witness, Roberto Catapang Jr., who was supposed to have supporting documents on the scam.

Catapang named former Budget Chief Florencio Abad and former Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, as well as 41 others in the scam.

The senator, a native of General Santos, then filed Senate Resolution 561 to probe into the claims.

"Ang perang pinaguusapan ay halos siyam na bilyong piso. Ang perang ito ay sapat na para makapagpatakbo ng isang siyudad. Kailangan maitigil na ang ganitong uri ng kalakaran sa ating gobyerno. Sinisiguro ko na hindi tayo titigil hangga't hindi mananagot ang dapat managot," he said.

[Translation: The funds go as high as nine billion pesos. This is enough to run a city. These corrupt practices have to stop in our government, and I assure that we won't stop until those responsible for this are penalized.]

Abad had denied Catapang's allegations.