MANILA, Philippines – “In a few weeks,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be filing graft charges against lawmakers involved in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuesday, August 13.
The justice secretary did not mention names or the number of those who will be included in the case when interviewed by reporters at the sidelines of a press conference for the launching of the proposed Philippine Code of Crimes at the House.
A source privy to the investigation told Rappler, however, that more senators and congressmen than those initially identified by a whistleblower have been found misusing their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Aside from double-checking the involvement of 5 senators and 23 congressmen identified in the affidavit of state witness Benhur Luy, the National Bureau of Investigation has been tasked by President Benigno Aquino III to look into the full extent of the scam.
Rappler’s own investigation found at least 49 lawmakers whose PDAF coursed through the National Agri-Business Corporation were found to have been misused by NGOs over a 5-year period, from 2007-2011.
Based on leads provided by Luy and other whistleblowers, Janet Lim-Napoles operates non-governmental organizations, which lawmakers endorse to get their PDAF from implementing agencies. The NGOs in turn split the funds between the lawmakers and Napoles, without implementing projects.
De Lima said investigators “were able to confirm the involvement of some lawmakers.”
She gave assurances that as long as there’s evidence, “both testimonial and documentary,” to indict lawmakers, the DOJ would do so regardless of whether they are allied with or opposed to the President.
“The NBI does not engage itself in any partisan concern or its investigation is not affected or damaged by any partisan or political color,” the DOJ secretary said.
“Maybe later, when we start filing charges, you would know or you would see it (political affiliation) is not at all a benchmark. The political color being the subject of the investigation does not matter,” De Lima said.
The final list of those who will charged will be “dictated purely by evidence,” she said.
The Senate and the House leaderships have decided to not to conduct any parallel investigations into the controversy, although the minority bloc in the House has filed a resolution seeking a separate probe.
Each senator receives a PDAF of P200 million every year, while each congressman receives P70 million. – Rappler.com