Malacañang on Tuesday insisted it would go after a new batch of lawmakers—many of them allied with President Aquino—who were tagged in another pork barrel scam involving foundations not affiliated with Janet Lim-Napoles.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said authorities should determine if the lawmakers had indeed funneled their pork barrel allotments to questionable nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
“The government is unfazed in its resolve to go against the misuse of public funds,” Coloma said in Filipino. “We have to know the truth and identify those who violated the law and make them accountable.”
A total of P670 million in pork barrel funds was supposed to go to Muslim Filipinos through the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
But the funds were redirected to bogus foundations based on the recommendation of 49 lawmakers, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Gregorio Honasan II, according to the Commission on Audit (COA).
Of the 21 NGOs picked by the two senators and 47 representatives, 15 could not be found at their supposed addresses, according to the COA.
Nine of the foundations that received a bulk of the congressional allotments were not owned by Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Among the lawmakers who allegedly released part of their pork barrel allocations to questionable foundations were Aangat Tayo Rep. Daryl Grace Abayon (P44.8 million), Lanao del Norte Rep. Fatimah Aliah Dimaporo (P40 million), I-Care Rep. Salvador Cabaluna III (P37.5 million), Sulu Rep. Nur-ana Sahidulla (P35 million), and I-Care Rep. Michael Angelo Rivera (P27.5 million).
De Lima turnaround
Also on Tuesday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima turned around and told reporters she would file the third batch of cases pertaining to the Napoles scam involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
De Lima earlier drew flak from politicians and anticorruption groups that she was wrapping up cases in the Department of Justice (DOJ) to concentrate on running for senator in next year’s elections.
“I know that many are already criticizing me with respect to that, and I take this opportunity to clarify that I was not saying that it’s no longer a priority. It still remains to be a priority, only that we still have many other priorities,” she said.
One critic, lawyer Levito Baligod, accused the DOJ of “straying away from the fight against corruption.”
Baligod, the former counsel of the state witnesses in the earlier PDAF cases pending in the Office of the Ombudsman or being tried by the Sandiganbayan, threatened that he himself would file the cases against at least 34 more people involved in the scam.
De Lima said she had instructed probers from the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation, who were assigned the remaining cases, along with those already filed, two years ago, to speed up their work and submit a final recommendation within two weeks.
She said she had assigned these cases to Undersecretary Jose Justiniano.
“He is also quite busy … But I will be meeting him, I will ask him to already give me a final recommendation with respect to the third batch. It should no longer be delayed,” she said.
Justiniano is part of the prosecutorial team helping the Office of the Ombudsman in the trial of Napoles and Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Enrile.
Originally posted: 6:46 PM | Tuesday, May 12th, 2015