In a press statement issued last night, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said the agency “has not yet conducted any investigation with regard to the subject matter of the privilege speeches of Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Rep. Andaya.”
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Ombudsman: No flood fund probe
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - January 11, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman denied claims by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. that the agency has launched an investigation into the P332-billion flood control fund scam allegedly perpetrated by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

In a press statement issued last night, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said the agency “has not yet conducted any investigation with regard to the subject matter of the privilege speeches of Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Rep. Andaya.”

The two lawmakers claimed that there were alleged anomalous insertions in the national budget for the past two years as well as for 2019.

In a press statement on Wednesday, Andaya said the ombudsman has already launched its own investigation of the alleged scam, as the anti-graft body supposedly “noticed red flags of corruption” on the evidence and testimonies that came up during the House hearing.

Martires said that while it is true that he ordered one of his staff members to obtain from the House committee on rules secretariat a copy of Andaya’s speech as well as the materials the lawmaker used for his slide presentation during the hearing, it does not mean that his office is already conducting any investigation.

“It is therefore inaccurate to say that ‘the Office of the Ombudsman has noticed red flags of corruption on the evidence presented and on the testimonies made during the (House) hearing,’” Martires said.

He also disputed Andaya’s claim that it was the ombudsman who requested copies of testimonial and documentary evidence that the House generated during its hearings.

Martires said while his staff member was only asking for a copy of Andaya’s speech and slide presentation, a House staff member identified only as Mr. Baquiran offered additional documents generated during the public hearing.

“Naturally, any well-meaning investigator will not refuse any information that may enlighten him or the Office on the subject matter...Likewise, it is also imprecise to say that we ‘have requested copies of testimonial and documentary evidence,’” Martires said.

He said it would be more prudent for the House to focus on its own probe and file charges before the ombudsman if it has sufficient evidence to back its allegations against Diokno.

Diokno has denied the allegations and even dared Andaya to file a criminal complaint against him if the latter has the evidence to prove his claims.

BENJAMIN DIOKNO ROLANDO ANDAYA JR.
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