38 charged in pork barrel scam
MANILA, Philippines – Charges – according to varying degrees of alleged corruption – were filed against 38 lawmakers, government officials, and private individuals before the Ombudsman on Monday, September 16.
Leading those who are facing plunder complaints are senators Jose “Jingoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. The evidence against them were presented to the media before the filing.
In a press conference after the complaints were received by the Ombudsman, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said two former lawmakers are also facing plunder charges:
- Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, who is now governor of Masbate
- Edgar Valdez of APEC party list
Plunder charges can be filed against public officials and private individuals who engage them in acts of corruption involving P50 million and above.
These 5 current and former lawmakers alone are accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth through “misappropriation, conversion, misuse, and malversation’ of P745.63 million of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
De Lima said the complaint against each of the respondents “would outline the specifics of those series of overt acts…that fall under plunder.”
The others who are facing charges of either plunder, malversation of funds, bribery, and graft and corruption are:
- 3 former congressmen and congresswoman
- 8 chief of staffs or representatives of lawmakers
- 5 heads of government corporations
- 10 other officials of those 3 government corporations
- Scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles
- 6 presidents of Napoles’ fake NGOs
Levi Baligod, counsel for the 16 whistleblowers, was a co-complainant with the National Bureau of Investigation.
The pork barrel scam involves lawmakers supposedly endorsing bogus non-governmental organizations to be recipients of their PDAF that is coursed through implementing agencies.
The funds, the release of which was facilitated by agency officials, were supposedly split between Napoles and the lawmakers, without any projects being implemented. The lawmakers’ aides, representatives, and the agency officials allegedly got commissions.
Indictments for plunder, graft, malversation and direct bribery are also sought against the follwing:
- Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur)
- Samuel Dangwa (Bengue)
- Constantino Jaraula (Cagayan de Oro City)
Staff or representatives of lawmakers
- Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes (Enrile’s chief of staff)
- Richard Cambe (Revilla’s chief political officer)
- Ruby Tuason (liaison for Enrile and Estrada)
- Pauline Labayen (staff of Estrada)
- Jose Sumalpong (staff of Lanete)
- Janet dela Cruz (staff of Lanete)
- Erwin Dangwa (staff of Dangwa)
- Carlos Lozada (staff of Dangwa)
5 heads of agencies:
- Alan Javellana (former president of the National Agribusiness Corp or Nabcor)
- Gondelina Amata (president of the National Livelihood Development Corp or NLDC)
- Antonio Ortiz (former director general of the Training and Research Center or TRC)
- Dennis Cunanan (director general of TRC)
- Salvador Salacup (former president of ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. or ZREC who is now assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture)
Other officials and employees of government agencies:
- Victor Cacal (Nabcor)
- Romulo Revelo (Nabcor)
- Ma. Ninez Guanizo (Nabcor)
- Julie Johnson (Nabcor)
- Rodhora Mendoza (Nabcor)
- Alexis Sevidal (NLDC)
- Sofia Cruz (NLDC)
- Chila Jalandoni (NLDC)
- Francisco Figura (TRC)
- Marivic Jover (TRC)
Presidents of Napoles NGOs
- Jocelyn Piorato
- Nemesio Pablo
- Mylene Encarnacion
- John Raymund de Asis
- Evelyn de Leon
- Ronald John Lim
De Lima said the justice department is leaving it up to the discretion of the Ombudsman to issue a hold departure order against the accused individuals.
“Wala pa po sa korte (Charges have not been filed in court). We can't issue” hold departure orders, she said.
Upon finding probable cause, the Ombudsman will be the one to file cases before the Sandiganbayan.
More charges to be filed
De Lima said additional criminal charges will be filed in two weeks’ time against more lawmakers, officials of implementing agencies and private individuals as the NBI complete evidence in connection with diversion of the PDAF.
Among the initial evidence submitted with the complaint on Monday were copies of memorandum of agreement with implementing agencies and NGOs, delivery receipts, copies of Special Allotment Release Orders or SAROs from the budget department, and sworn affidavits of whistleblowers.
To boost their cases, De Lima said, “We are banking on the coercive powers of the Ombudsman in compelling those bank records.”
At a Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam on September 12, state witness Benhur Luy revealed that the chiefs of staff of senators collected their and their principals’ commissions from Napoles’ office in Ortigas Center in cash.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales issued a statement that her office will not issue any statement about the progress of the investigation to insulate against possible allegations of prejudgment and partiality. – Rappler.com