THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is poised to file malversation charges against 10 members of the House of Representatives who used non-government organizations owned or controlled by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to funnel public funds for their personal use.
Levito Baligod, the lawyer of several witnesses who disclosed Napoles’s illegal activities, refused to reveal the names of the politicians but added that four presidents of foundations doing business with Napoles will be included in the charge sheet.
“The ten congressmen are new names and were not included in the earlier plunder case filed before the Office of the Ombudsman,” Baligod told The Manila Times.
He explained that charges of malversation, not plunder, will be filed because the amounts that the lawmakers were less than P50 million, the ceiling for filing a plunder complaint.
Baligod added that aside from the lawmakers, 10 government employees will also be indicted before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The new charges arose from the releases of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2007 to 2009.
The lawyer said the NBI is also filing more criminal charges over the illegal releases of PDAF from 2004 to 2006. In this batch, it is possible that a former congressman who is now a senator will be included in the charge sheet.
The NBI has already filed plunder charges against several individuals, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. The case is under review at the Office of the Ombudsman.
The charges were based mostly on the testimony of some 16 whistleblowers who are in NBI custody.
Based on a report of the Commission on Audit (COA), 32 former and sitting House members transferred their pork funds to various non-government organizations. They are Rene Velarde of party-list group Buhay, P7.8 million; Nerissa Soon Ruiz of Cebu, P22 million; Marina Clarete of Misamis Occidental, P45.6 million; Vicente Belmonte Jr. of Iligan City, P8.2 million; Rolando Uy of Cagayan de Oro City, P17.5 million; Danilo Lagbas of Misamis Oriental, P13.4 million; Niel Tupas Jr. of Iloilo, P17.5 million; Roberto Cajes of Bohol, P32.5 million; Maria Isabelle Climaco of Zamboanga City, P23.4 million; Thomas Dumpit Jr. of La Union, P44.1 million; Isidro Ungab of Davao City, P38.3 million; the late Ignacio Arroyo of Negros Occidental, P20.3 million; Joseph Santiago of Catanduanes, P19.4 million; Manuel Agyao of Kalinga, P11.5 million; Edgar Valdez of APEC party–list group, P35.9 million; Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate, P31.7 million; Conrado Estrella 3rd of Pangasinan, P36.7 million; Adam Relson Jala of Bohol, P13.3 million; Prospero Nograles of Davao City, P60.1 million; Edgar Espinosa of Masbate, P24.1 million; Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina, P14.3 million; Del de Guzman of Marikina, P9.4 million; Jaime Lopez of Manila, P5.5 million; Mariano Piamonte Jr. of A–Teacher party–list group, P15 million; Elias Bulut Jr. of Apayao, P12.3 million; Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa, P8 million; Vincent Crisologo of Quezon City, P33 million; Arturo Robes of San Francisco del Monte, Bulacan, P25.4 million; Maria Teresa Bonoan-David of Manila, P35 million; Eduardo Zialcita of Parañaque, P17.5 million; Luis Asistio of Caloocan, P25 million; and Oscar Malapitan of Caloocan, P25.3 million.
Meanwhile, Enrile’s camp on Monday said there is no point answering the complaint filed against him at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam since the officers who handled the preliminary investigation have determined he is the mastermind of the controversy based on the supposed memorandum submitted to the Ombudsman.
In a letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Enrile’s lawyers raised serious concern over the content of the supposed memo earlier leaked to a newspaper naming Enrile as the mastermind of the pork scam.
“This prosecutorial misconduct has certainly converted the entire preliminary investigation process into a moro-moro [farce], with a pre-ordained outcome that will totally disregard any argument or evidence to be presented by Sentor Enrile,” the letter said.
Enrile’s camp was referring to the supposed eight-page memorandum/report submitted by Assistant Ombudsman Joselito Fangon to Morales.
The senator’s camp asked the Ombudsman to clarify the existence of a report tagging Enrile as the pork scam mastermind.
“We are seriously concerned with the content of the supposed memo. Whether existent or not, the mention of the supposed memo has created tremendous prejudicial publicity against Senator Enrile,” the letter read.