Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, poses questions to Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind during the hearing on Thursday (Nov. 7, 2013) at the Senate building in Pasay City. (MNS photo)

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, poses questions to Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind during the hearing on Thursday (Nov. 7, 2013) at the Senate building in Pasay City. (MNS photo)

MANILA, June 10 (Mabuhay) — Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and three others asked the Sandiganbayan on Tuesday to suspend the proceedings of the plunder case in connection with the multimillion peso pork barrel scam.

Relampagos together with DBM officials Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare filed a consolidated motion for judicial determination of probable cause.

According to the motion, the proceedings should be stopped due to the absence of probable cause, adding that Relampagos and others were charged only on the strength of whistleblower Benhur Luy’s word.

“They were charged solely on the bare and uncorroborated statements of Benhur Luy in his affidavit,” the motion said.

The motion added that charges on the DBM officials were politically charged and should therefore be disregarded.

“[They were] indicted despite the total absence of probable cause. The records show that the indictment are based on heaps of political expediency as not even a shred of evidence point to their culpability,” the motion said.

The motion to suspend was filed in connection with the plunder case against Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. However, Relampagos and the other DBM officials were only charged with graft.

Plunder is a non-bailable offense. It is punishable by 30 years in prison and the forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth in favor of the government.

Graft, on the other hand, is punishable by imprisonment of not less than six years and one month to 15 years, perpetual disqualification from public office and confiscation or forfeiture in favor of the government of any prohibited interest and unexplained wealth.

The pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles supposedly diverted money from lawmakers’ pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations into fake NGOs.

The special panel of the Office of the Ombudsman, in a joint resolution, named Relampagos along with his staffers Nuñez, Paule, and Bare as among the 25 government employees who helped funnel the PDAF of lawmakers to the said NGOs. (MNS)