MANILA (Mabuhay) – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Thursday denied the existence of an eight-page memo tagging Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile as the mastermind of the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.
“I’m surprised about that eight-page memo. There’s no such thing as an eight-page memo… I have several memos. I don’t recall about an eight-page memo. Pero ang memo na natatanggap ko, more than 200 pages,” Morales told reporters at the sidelines of Senate deliberations on her office’s budget for next year.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on Thursday that an investigative team from the Office of the Ombudsman submitted an eight-page report to Morales last week pointing to Enrile as the alleged mastermind in the pork barrel scam.
According to the Inquirer report, the memorandum prepared by Assistant Ombudsman Joselito Fangon stated that “all facts point to Senator Enrile as the unseen hand directing the compass and the tempo of the whole orchestra.”
Enrile and two of his collegues – Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Bong Revilla – have been named respondents in a plunder complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly receiving kickbacks from the scam that was allegedly engineered by controversial businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Morales said her office has not yet recommended any charges against the lawmakers before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court, explaining that the Ombudsman’s field investigation office only “recommended that the charges be subjected to preliminary investigation.”
“Iba yung preliminary investigation, iba yung filing of case ng Sandiganbayan,” Morales said.
On Monday, the Office of the Ombudsman released a statement saying that a team of its field investigators has filed three separate plunder and graft complaints against Enrile, Revilla and Estrada in connection with the scam.
Napoles as state witness?
Reacting to the media report on Enrile’s alleged role in the pork scam, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said that Napoles can now be a state witness.
In a statement, Santiago, Enrile’s staunch critic, said Napoles “is no longer the most guilty among the accused in the plunder case, and is now qualified to be a state witness.”
“If the Sandigan discharges Napoles as a state witness, this means that in effect she has been acquitted. But she has to comply with the condition that she must specify every single detail of the scam hatched by the mastermind and carried out by her fake non-government organizations,” Santiago said.
Under Republic Act 6981, a witness can turn into a state witness and can be given immunity from suit, upon approval by the Department of Justice, if he or she is not the most guilty and if his or her testimony is of “absolute necessity.”
Santiago believes that Napoles’ testimony on the alleged anomaly “is absolutely necessary because she alone has knowledge of the entire crime, and her testimony is not simply corroborative.”
Earlier this month, Napoles appeared before the Senate blue ribbon committee’s inquiry on the supposed scam, where she denied involvement in the anomaly. She repeatedly invoked her right against self-incrimination when asked about details on the scam. (MNS)