DOJ to file charges vs lawmakers in ‘pork barrel’ scam-A A +A
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
MANILA -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) will file charges against lawmakers allegedly involved in the controversial P10-billion “pork barrel” scam in a few weeks, Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuesday.
“It’s really necessary that this would be scrutinized and investigated, including the past scandals that are in danger of being forgotten,” said Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website.
At the sidelines of the launching of the proposed Philippine Code of Crimes at the Batasan Pambansa, de Lima said the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are double-checking the list of five senators and 23 congressmen who have earlier been named by whistleblower Benhur Luy.
According to Luy, businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles channeled pork barrel funds or Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) of congressmen and senators to fund bogus non-government organizations.
De Lima, however, refused to divulge the names of congressmen and senators to face charges but said that they “were able to confirm the involvement of some lawmakers.”
“There are names being mentioned but as I said, it is undergoing a process of validation.
Those that will be charged must be backed up with enough evidence, both testimonial and documentary,” de Lima said.
What the justice secretary assured is that there is no “double standard” in the filing of charges before the Office of the Ombudsman.
“NBI does not engage itself in any partisan concern, or its investigation is not affected or damaged by any partisan or political color. Maybe later when we start filing charges you would know or you would see it’s not at all a benchmark. The political color being the subject of the investigation does not matter,” de Lima said.
“Who will not be shocked with these reports and with the magnitude of money involved?” a teary-eyed Manila Archbishop asked during a press conference for the coming Philippine Conference on New Evangelization on Tuesday in Manila.
The Catholic Church official then broke into tears when he challenged the politicians to visit the poor and slum areas so that they would feel how the less fortunate live and to make them realize how should the PDAF be spent.
“My only appeal, not only to the politicians but to anyone involved in the controversy, is for them to visit the communities of informal settlers. Try walking there at night,” he said.
“But once they see them and even feel their suffering, maybe, they will at least be disheartened and moved by it,” Tagle added.
But, the cardinal believes that those people who were involved in irregularities can still change.
“I still believe that there is goodness in every person. You can be better than this. And you cannot deny it. There is goodness in you, which comes from God,” the Archbishop of Manila said.
De Lima, meanwhile, admitted that the investigation on the pork barrel scam will take long considering the magnitude of the controversy.
House leaders and senators earlier shunned the responsibility of investigating the allegations
of misuse of pork barrel funds, leaving the matter entirely to the Justice Department.
Strict measures, however, will be implemented by the Department of Budget and Management starting next year in the allocation of PDAF.
Congressmen receive an annual PDAF of P70 million while senators receive P200 million yearly. (Katrina Alvarez/Sunnex/PNA)