PDAF, DAP probe to continue under next ombudsman, Morales says
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales will hang her robes on July 26, seven years since former President Benigno Aquino III appointed her to the position.
Michael Varcas
PDAF, DAP probe to continue under next ombudsman, Morales says
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - June 11, 2018 - 10:50am

MANILA, Philippines — The investigation into the multi-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program and Priority Development Assistance Fund scam would have to be continued by the next ombudsman.

Speaking at the CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said that while she “intended to finish” cases involving the PDAF and DAP before her term expires on July 26, the probe might have to be continued by her successor.

READ: Who's who: A look at candidates aspiring to be the next ombudsman

“Unfortunately due to the volume of cases the office is handling, we may not be able to finish all PDAF cases. There are several of them,” Morales said.

Former Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla Jr.—then-opposition lawmakers, during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III—were charged over the rigged multi-billion PDAF scheme.

Morales also denied that there is selective justice in pursuing cases involving PDAF and DAP.

She stressed that it was easier for the Office of the Ombudsman to “touch upon the cases” against Enrile, Revilla and Estrada due to the confession of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, believed to be the brains behind the multi-billion pork barrel scam.

 “Why were these cases prioritized? First, they are high-profile cases. Second, and more importantly, Napoles executed an affidavit, naming them, detailing the circumstances that gave rise to the cases,” the ombudsman said.

Napoles as state witness?

Under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, Napoles was, for three months, placed under the provisional Witness Protection Program—marking a turn of the tide in the government’s probe into the PDAF scam.

Former justice chief Vitaliano Aguirre II placed Napoles under provisional government protection after the latter issued an affidavit about DAP just as the DOJ reopened the probe into the issue. The reinvestigation stemmed from the bid of Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica.

Details of Napoles’ affidavit are still not known.

READ: Janet Lim Napoles now enjoying partial witness protection

Napoles’ admission into the WPP was only made public on March 26 when she sought for a transfer from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to a safe house. The DOJ and Aguirre reaped strong criticism on the move as questions were raised challenging Napoles’ credibility as a witness.

For Morales, the DOJ and Aguirre were “out of tune” in considering Napoles as a state witness. “That was unfounded in the part of Aguirre. To begin with, it was the ombudsman who has the final say on who will be indicted,” stressed Morales.

Morales also said there is “nothing” that prevents Napoles from spilling the beans on other lawmakers on their involvement with the PDAF and DAP scam.

The country’s chief graft-buster, however, said that Napoles’ new narration might be taken with a prejudiced view.

“At this point in time, whatever she says now, would probably be taken with a jaundiced eye. If she has something to say something against someone, she should have done that years back, not 2018,” Morales said.

On May 25, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra terminated Napoles’ WPP.

He said: “Considering the denial of Napoles’ Urgent Motion for Transfer of Custody to the DOJ Witness Protection Security and Benefit Program by the First, Third, and Fifth Divisions of the Sandiganbayan, the main purpose for which Ms. Napoles had sought the admission into the WPSBP has become moot and academic.”

READ: Napoles no longer under state protection, says DOJ

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