The Office of the Ombudsman has found ground to charge five former lawmakers before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan in connection with the multimillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
The anti-graft body found probable cause to indict former Representatives Rufino Rozzano “Ruffy” Biazon of Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila), Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro, Arrel Olaño of Davao del Norte, Marc Douglas Cagas 4th of Davao del Sur and Arthur Pingoy Jr. of South Cotobato and several others.
“In five separate resolutions, Ombudsman [Conchita Carpio-] Morales directed the filing of Informations for violation of Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, malversation and direct bribery against the five representatives… and officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission including ERC Chairperson Zenaida Ducut, the Department of Budget and Management, the Technology Resource Center, National Agribusiness Corporation or Nabcor and other purported non-governmental organizations including Janet Lim-Napoles before the Sandiganbayan,” Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said at a news briefing on Wednesday.
The five cases stemmed from t separate complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and lawyer Levito Baligod.
In 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the first batch of PDAF-related cases before the office against Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada as well as businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and several other respondents.
The second batch of pork-barrel related cases reportedly involved Biazon, a former Customs commissioner, and 33 others.
Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano has said , “It is up to the [DOJ] Secretary’s discretion when the cases [against those composing the third batch]will be filed with the Ombudsman.”
In June last year, the Office of the Ombudsman filed separate plunder and graft charges against Revilla, Enrile and Estrada and several others including Napoles, allegedly the brains behind the PDAF scam.
In February this year, the office charged former Representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of Masbate (now Governor), Samuel Dangwa of Benguet, Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur, Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro City and Edgar Valdez of the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives.
Lanete and Valdez face separate plunder and graft charges while Dangwa, Plaza and Jaraula also face separate graft, malversation and direct-bribery charges.