P440-M BBL bribery story credible, solid – reporter tells House

BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW: Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, listens to Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Central Committee chair, during Monday’s (May 18, 2015) hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. Alonto said they stand together with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.(MNS photo)

BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW: Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, listens to Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Central Committee chair, during Monday’s (May 18, 2015) hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. Alonto said they stand together with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.(MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The reporter who broke the story on the alleged P440-million bribe for lawmakers to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) stood by her articles when she appeared before the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

During the House of Representatives investigation on the alleged bribe from Chinese crime lord Wang Bo on Tuesday, Christine Herrera said her series of stories were verified using credible sources before these were published.

“I stand by what I have written in my articles. They are based on credible sources and solid evidence. I (exerted) efforts to verify and corroborate the story before submitting for publication,” said Herrera, whose articles came out of the Standard.

The reporter then quoted from US President Barack Obama about the freedom of the press.

“‘A society who represses journalists ultimately represses the people.’ I brought out the basic principle which is that a free press is a foundation for a democracy. We rely on journalists to explain the actions if the government. If the government controls the journalist then it’s very difficult for citizens to hold government accountable,” Herrera said.

Also invited to the probe were Standard reporters Maricel Cruz and Rey Requejo.

The House probe stemmed from The Standard report, which alleged that P440 million were allocated to pay off the 292 lawmakers in the lower chamber – or P1.5 million promised to each lawmaker – for their vote for the BBL.

The report said the funds came from Wang Bo who allegedly paid the Bureau of Immigration (BI) P100 million to secure his release after the BI initially ordered his deportation, and another P400 million for the lawmakers.

Wang Bo allegedly embezzled $100 million and is suspected of opening casinos for transnational gambling.

The report alleged that bags of cash were unloaded at the rear entrance of the House of Representatives and these were taken to the office of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

The report said the CCTV footage of the incident that supposedly happened from Monday to Wednesday last week has been overwritten. (MNS)

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