Aquino: 2 to 3 cases vs pork barrel fund scam suspects to be filed soon-A A +A
Monday, August 19, 2013
AT LEAST two to three cases against those allegedly involved in the pork barrel fund scam will be filed soon, President Benigno Aquino III said Monday.
Aquino in an interview at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City where he attended the Pambansang Kongreso said that he ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to file at least two to three strongest cases as soon as possible.
As much as he wanted to promise to the public to immediately apprehend the first suspect who has the warrant of arrest and to convict him/her next week, "but the system is not like that," he said, stressing, "the truth is it will take years."
Aquino added, from his understanding, "(cases) are ready to be filed and at least two to three cases."
The President did not mention who will be charged, while he mentioned that there was already a non-bailable case filed, apparently referring to Janet Lim-Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim for illegal detention.
Napoles and Lim are now fugitives for alleged serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, the main whistle-blower on the P10-billion pork barrel fund scam.
As this developed, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares said a joint DOJ and Office of the Ombudsman probe will hasten the government's investigation on the pork barrel scam.
Colmenares said the DOJ-Ombudsman hearings should be open to the public similar to congressional investigations.
"The number of NGOs and legislators reportedly involved in the pork barrel scam suddenly ballooned after the recent COA (Commission on Audit) report. This means it will take some time for the DOJ to investigate these parties after which they will file the complaint with the Ombudsman. I propose a joint DOJ-Ombudsman investigation since the DOJ will ultimately have to file this with the Ombudsman anyway," said Colmenares.
The Office of the Ombudsman holds jurisdiction over cases involving government officials, including congressmen and senators.
"This will not only hasten investigation but also lessen suspicions that the DOJ investigation will attempt to exonerate allies of Malacanang," he noted.
Last week, COA chairperson Maria Grace Pulido-Tan bared that some P6.156-billion PDAF of close to 200 lawmakers from 2007 to 2009 were channeled to dubious NGOs.
Of the amount, at least P2.1 billion went to NGOs tied to fugitive businesswoman Napoles.
Meanwhile, despite calls for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, Aquino has maintained his position to retain it.
Aquino, who is a former Tarlac congressman and a senator, reiterated that the PDAF is important for those projects in every district that could not be given attention by the national government.
However, he said that more restrictions and safeguards should be implemented to ensure that the pork barrel funds of the lawmakers would not end up to questionable non-government organizations (NGOs), such as those, which were allegedly formed by Napoles.
"So correct its usage, add restrictions, widen the safeguards and the monitoring of the implementation," he said.
The President noted that when he assumed office, the number of accredited NGOs receiving the pork barrel drastically declined.
"There are NGOs which are okay and not fake and are not using fake names of those who passed the bar exam, etcetera," he said.
He also assured that the investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation on the pork barrel fund scam would not be selective.
Whether those involved were allies of the administration or not, he said that cases will be filed against them.
He also said that he wanted to make sure that any charges to be filed will be strong.
"What is important is to give justice for the people," Aquino stressed. (SDR/Kathrina Alavrez/Sunnex)