De Lima: No probe yet on DOH Usec. Garin despite implication in NABCOR mess

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima (MNS Photo)

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima (MNS Photo)

MANILA, Nov 12 (Mabuhay) – No probe yet on Health Undersecretary Janette Garin.

In an interview late Tuesday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima admitted that she has yet to order an investigation on Garin, currently officer-in-charge of the DOH, who was earlier implicated by whistleblowers in the alleged illegal diversion of P5 billion in government funds meant for nine agricultural projects between 2008 and 2009.

The fund diversion was allegedly made by officials of the Department of Agriculture and the National Agri-Business Corp. (NABCOR). The fund anomaly in nine previous projects of the NABCOR was exposed by former NABCOR officials-turned-whistleblowers Victor Cacal and Rhodora Mendoza in March.

Mendoza claimed in her affidavit submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation that she personally delivered to Garin and nine other politicians P1 million each during the 2007 elections when the DOH official was still representative of Iloilo’s first district.

But when the whistleblowers came up to her with their lawyer Levito Baligod, De Lima said she wasn’t sure whether the their sworn statements were properly and “officially” subscribed.

That must be the reason kung bakit hindi ko muna ni-refer iyan for formal investigation. Mukang kulang iyong mga naging document noon,” De Lima told reporters.

Pero ido-double check ko iyan,” she added.

De Lima clarified that she initially refered to the NBI the whistleblower’s testimony against Garin “but I am not really sure kung nagkaroon talaga ng investigation.”

De Lima said she was under the impression that the Office of the Ombudsman anyway has already included Garin among the lawmakers it was investigating  on the fund mess.

De Lima said it was from the Ombudsman that Mendoza and Cacal originally sought refuge over the NABCOR mess, but the two eventually decided to also seek help from the Department of Justice.

“Ifa-follow up ko pa iyong (kay Garin). I am not sure if that was really specifically assigned to an NBI team. Isinama ko lang iyon doon sa special task force na dating nag-iimbestiga din ng P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund mess.

Among the government-funded agricultural programs whose funds were allegedly riddled with irregularities are the Ginintuang Masaganing Ani, Barangay Food Terminal, Post-Harvest Facilities, and the Agricultural Competitive Enhancement Fund.

Cacal and Mendoza are two of three former NABCOR officials facing plunder raps in connection with the pork barrel scam. The other is ex-NABCOR president Alan Javellana. (MNS)

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