NBI files plunder against 3 senators, Napoles NGO heads-A A +A
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed plunder complaints yesterday against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. for allegedly conniving with businesswoman Janet Napoles to pocket pork barrel funds.
The Office of the Ombudsman will investigate these senators to verify if there’s basis to charge them before the Sandiganbayan.
Napoles, currently in police custody for the alleged serious illegal detention of whistleblower Benhur Luy, was also charged with plunder, malversation and corruption of public officials.
Thirty-five past and present government officials and employees completed the list of respondents.
Plunder, which involves the misuse of at least P50 million in taxpayers’ money, is a non-bailable offense and punishable by life imprisonment, forfeiture of assets and disqualification from government service.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Enrile received P172.8 million in kickbacks from Napoles. It said that Revilla received P224.5 million and Estrada, P183.79 million.
A teary-eyed Revilla said he is prepared to air his side at the proper time and venue.
“Ang hiling ko lang sa sambayanan ay huwag kaming husgahan, ipapaliwanag namin (My plea to the public is not to judge us. We will explain),” he told reporters.
Estrada said he will not hide abroad and expressed confidence his lawyers can show he did not misuse his pork barrel.
“I trust that the day will come, after the presentation of all documents and evidence in connection with the PDAF controversy, that it will be clear to all that the accusations against me are all unfounded,” he said.
Enrile hospitalized, his office said.
“According to former representative Jack Enrile, his father, Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, was brought to the Makati Medical Center early last Saturday
morning after the latter complained of difficulty urinating. As a result, his blood pressure became elevated. Doctors found an obstruction in his urethra, which was immediately removed. The senator was supposed to be discharged this afternoon but
doctors advised him to stay for another day for observation,” said a statement
yesterday from Senator Enrile’s office.
PDAF stands for the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF). Government auditors who examined PDAF releases from 2007 to 2009 said billions went to dubious non-government organizations or questionable infrastructure projects.
The NBI’s executive summary said that the lawmakers named in the cases “abused their official position and authority as senators and congressmen of the republic, thereby unjustly enriching themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the people.”
The chiefs of staff or representatives of lawmakers charged along with their bosses were Gigi Reyes (Enrile), Richard Cambe (Revilla), Ruby Tuason (representative of Enrile/Estrada) Pauline Labayen (Estrada), Jose Sumalpong (Rep. Rizalina Lanete), Jeanette dela Cruz (Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa) and Carlos Lozada (Dangwa).
Plunder and malversation cases were also pursued against presidents of the so-called “Napoles NGOs”.
They are Jocelyn Piorato (Agrikultura para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc.), Nemesio Pablo (Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation, Inc.), Mylene Encarnacion (Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation, Inc.), Evelyn de leon (Philippine Social Development Foundation, Inc.) and Ronald John Lim (Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation).
At a press briefing, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she will issue a lookout bulletin against the 38 respondents but these individuals cannot be barred from leaving the country.
The DOJ and the NBI submitted the complaints, along with a truckload of documentary evidence, to the Office of the Ombudsman past 3:30 p.m.
Luy was present to subscribe to his affidavit.
The complaints leaned on the accounts of 16 whistleblowers—some of them former employees of Napoles in JLN Corp.—and a special audit report of the Commission on Audit on PDAF releases from 2007 to 2009.
Outside the ombudsman’s office, anti-corruption groups led by Akbayan partylist blew whistles to express their support for the witnesses.
The NBI will file cases related to the misuse of proceeds from Malampaya gas project next week. A second batch of pork barrel-related cases will be forwarded to the ombudsman as well. (Virgil Lopez/JK/CPT/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 17, 2013.