NBI probe on pork barrel misuse now ‘full blown’

Rappler.com
De Lima also told reporters NBI is still willing to conduct a joint or 'at least a parallel, coordinated probe' with both the Ombudsman and COA

JOINT PROBE? Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says NBI is open to conducting a joint probe with COA and the Ombudsman. Photo by Leanne Jazul

MANILA, Philippines – As the manhunt for ‘pork barrel queen’ Janet Lim Napoles continues, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Sunday, August 18, the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) ongoing probe into the multi-million pork barrel scandal will now be “full blown” after the release of the latest Commission on Audit report (COA). 

But De Lima told reporters NBI is still willing to conduct a joint or “at least a parallel, coordinated probe” with both the Ombudsman and COA over the alleged misuse of lawmakers ‘funds. 

In an radio interview on dzBB Sunday, Senate President Franklin Drilon also suggested that the Ombudsman, COA and the Department of Justice must coordinate closely to speed up investigations. 

“The investigation of the Ombudsman and DOJ should be prioritized. The government must show resolve in addressing this issue so that people can see that we are doing something,” Drilon said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

The COA report released Friday, August 16, showed NGOs linked with Napoles received P2.1-B of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations from 2007 to 2009. 

But COA found that the misuse of legistators’ funds went further – at least P6.156 billion was released to dubious NGOs, with at least 192 solons involved. 

De Lima acknowledged the COA report covers “a much wider web of anomalies” but for now, NBI will focus on transactions entered into by Napoles and her NGOs, as well as the lawmakers and other individuals involved. 

“Given the fact that the COA Report covers a much wider web of anomalies surrounding the PDAF releases, NBI can always and will in fact expand its probe,” De Lima said. 

The NBI has cancelled Napoles’ passport and frozen her bank accounts. Her travels are also being monitored. – Angela Casauay/Rappler.com