MANILA (Mabuhay) — There are no more cases related to the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund left on the Justice Departments’ table, Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday.
After filing the third batch of raps against nine former and current lawmakers last week, the Department of Justice cannot file PDAF-related cases anymore, “unless the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Council (IAGC) assigns us to pursue other possible PDAF cases, particularly those outside the scope of the Commission Audit’s special audit report on PDAF from 2007 to 2009,” De Lima said.
“There’s nothing on our table at the moment,” she added.
De Lima made this statement during the budget briefing of the DOJ and its attached agencies before the House appropriations committee.
The COA special audit report was among the primary pieces of evidence the Office of the Ombudsman used in filing plunder and graft complaints against former and current lawmakers accused of misusing their PDAF allocations.
Last week, the DOJ charged Senator Gregorio Honasan and eight former and incumbent members of the House of Representatives over their alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso PDAF or pork barrel scam. They were the third batch of officials sued over the alleged anomaly.
The accused officials, which include administration allies Technical Education and Skills Development Authority head Secretary Joel Villanueva, a former party-list representative; and Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, would be facing graft and malversation charges—and not plunder—because the amount involved didn’t reach P50 million.
Asked by Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon why only nine officials were included in the third batch of pork barrel scam cases, De Lima said the accused are the remaining individuals covered by the COA special audit report.
“Some quarters are asking why there are only nine names—those are the remaining names covered by COA special report from 2007 to 2009. We cannot build cases against individuals if there are no COA reports yet [linking them to the PDAF scam],” she said.
But De Lima assured the lawmakers that the field investigation office headed by the Ombudsman is “continuously working on PDAF cases.”
She noted that it is the IAGC,is headed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, which handles cases related to the pork barrel scam. (MNS)