Duterte frat brod to head DOJ task force on PDAF scam

Lian Buan

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Duterte frat brod to head DOJ task force on PDAF scam

LeAnne Jazul

Justice Undersecretary Antonio Kho Jr will have 'overall supervision and oversight over all stages of the investigation and any other proceedings that may result therefrom,' says Department Order 435

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has assigned Undersecretary Antonio Kho Jr to head the task force that will reinvestigate the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

Kho is the fraternity brother of Aguirre and President Rodrigo Duterte, and among the Lex Taleonis members in the Department of Justice (DOJ). He took his oath of office in September 2016 before Duterte.

Aguirre signed Department Order 435 on Tuesday, June 27, assigning Kho as undersecretary-in-charge. 

The task force will also probe into the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP.

Both the PDAF scam and DAP are being investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Kho shall have overall supervision and oversight over all stages of the investigation and any other proceedings that may result therefrom, including those before the Office of the Ombudsman, where some or all of the complaints may be filed and those pending before Sandiganbayan,” the order said.

Aguirre had earlier said Janet Lim Napoles will be a private complainant in a fresh complaint she will file before the DOJ. 

Aguirre, citing information from Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David, has also named opposition Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Franklin Drilon, and Leila de Lima; and former budget secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad as the high-ranking officials who will be implicated in the fresh complaint.

The DAP issue was initially resolved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales when she indicted Abad for usurpation of legislative functions, but complainant Bayan Muna had appealed this.

Bayan Muna wants to include former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in the DAP indictment, and upgrade the charges to graft and malversation. The motion for reconsideration is still being pending before Morales. 

Aguirre has branded the DOJ’s reinvestigation as a rectification of the “selective justice” under the Aquino administration.

Cases vs senators remain

For the PDAF scam, Aguirre admitted that the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over the cases and that results of their reinvestigation will still be transmitted to that office.

Aguirre also said the reinvestigation will not affect Napoles’ pending plunder cases at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

Asked if he was categorically saying that the plunder cases against former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, and Jinggoy Estrada would remain, Aguirre told Rappler in a text message, “Yes.”  

Napoles is on trial at the Sandiganbayan for plunder, in connection with Revilla’s alleged PDAF misuse. She has 4 other plunder cases in the pre-trial stage. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.