MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) continues its probe into 17 other former and incumbent senators implicated by alleged big-time scammer Janet Lim-Napoles in her infamous “Napolist.”
In an ambush interview Wednesday, July 30, DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said her department is now evaluating Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) which permitted the release of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to select implementing agencies (IAs).
“But these are just the SAROs. It doesn’t confirm yet or it’s not yet proof na nakapag-deal na ‘yung lahat ng mga senators na ‘yun with Napoles (that the senators dealt with Napoles),” de Lima said.
A SARO is a public document issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) which authorizes a state agency to incur expenditures.
Through the PDAF scam, IAs such as state firms Technology Resource Center, National Livelihood Development Corporation, and National Agri-Business Corporation received portions of senators’ PDAF as authorized by the SAROs.
The PDAF coursed through these IAs allegedly funded ghost projects of dubious non-governmental organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles.
“So it would still entail pagkukuha ng more details from the IAs concerned. Kasi sila rin ang nakakaalam kung saan talagang mga projects napunta yung mga pondo,” de Lima said of the ongoing probe.
(So it would still entail getting more details from the IAs concerned. Because they are the ones aware of which projects really received the funds.)
Three other senators – Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr – also implicated by Napoles are already facing plunder and graft charges before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
The DBM-issued SAROs in relation to their PDAF now form part of the evidence against them in court.
DBM Director IV Carmencita Delantar has testified in separate hearings before the Sandiganbayan that at least 8 SAROs for Enrile’s PDAF were issued to Napoles-controlled NGOs and 12 for Revilla’s. Delantar has yet to testify in a hearing before the Sandiganbayan 5th division, which is hearing Estrada’s cases.
On the other hand, the former and incumbent senators currently under investigation by the DOJ are:
- Former Senator Rodolfo Biazon
- Former Senator Loi Estrada
- Former Senator Robert Jaworksi
- Former Senator Ramon Magsaysay
- Senator Lito Lapid
- Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr
- Former Senator Tessie Aquino Oreta
- Former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr
- Senator Cynthia Villar
- Senator Vicente Sotto
- Senator Loren Legarda
- Senator Koko Pimentel
- Former Senator Manny Villar
- Senator Alan Peter Cayetano
- Senator Gringo Honasan
- The late senator Robert Barbers
- Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero
IAs have incentive to falsify documents?
While the DOJ seeks to gather more details from the IAs about the misuse of PDAF, defense lawyers in the current PDAF cases have indicated in open court that these very agencies have reason to falsify documents in relation to the scam.
Documentary evidence were sourced from IAs, depite them financially gaining from transacting with NGOs.
Lawyer Mike Ancheta, legal counsel for Revilla’s aide Richard Cambe, once questioned Commission on Audit (COA) Assistant Commissioner Susan Garcia in court if IAs benefited from their transactions with NGOs. Garcia replied with a yes.
Ancheta also asked if the documents – including endorsement letters and Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) – that became the basis for the COA special audit report on PDAF were sourced from the IAs and not the senators. Garcia likewise said yes.
In an interview with Rappler after the hearing, Ancheta tagged as substantial the amount IAs received. These were called “management fees,” he said.
Prosecutor Joefferson Toribio, however, told Rappler that the amount was merely 10% of whatever project the NGO sponsored on paper.
DOJ Undersecretary JJ Justiniano, who is among those tapped from the DOJ to help the prosecution in the PDAF cases, said the management fees of IAs were outlined in their MOA with NGOs.
LGUs may be included
During the Wednesday interview, de Lima indicated that there were likewise local government units that received lawmakers’ PDAF. It is harder, she said, in the cases of LGU-recipients to confirm if the fund releases were irregular.
She said DOJ will coordinate with COA if such releases have already been audited. – Rappler.com
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