President Benigno Aquino 3rd has directed the Department of Justice to review the P728-million fertilizer fund scam case with a view to refiling it in light of a testimony of pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Quoting Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Friday told reporters that the case may be reopened, but only if there is enough evidence to support it.
Lacierda said de Lima wants “to confirm first whether that’s the statement of Benhur’s lawyer.” The lawyer, Raji Mendoza, on Thursday told The Manila Times editors and reporters in an exclusive interview that Luy is willing to testify on the fertilizer fund scam.
De Lima has been “instructed by the President to review the case with the end in view of refiling the case, if it is still feasible and warranted,” Lacierda said.
Mendoza said Luy is ready to tell everything he knows about the fertilizer fund scam which, according to him, was a “precursor” of the priority development assistance fund or pork barrel misuse, both of which were designed by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Luy will come up with details of the farm inputs scam “soon” after the recent release of the Commission on Audit (COA) report on the anomaly, to which about 140 former members of the House of Representatives were linked, Mendoza said.
“The fertilizer scam is a precursor [of]the pork barrel scam. He [Luy] said JLN [Napoles’ initials] was involved. He will give his affidavit to the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] soon,” he added.
The lawyer explained that Luy took time to reveal what he knows about the fertilizer scam because he was waiting for COA to release its report to back his allegations. The affidavit will be submitted to the NBI after which the Justice department is expected to charge Napoles before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The COA reported that two-thirds of the P330-million worth of fertilizers was overpriced.
The biggest amount cited by the auditors was a P123-million excess cost in the purchase of 166,781 bottles of Prime EC Foliar Liquid fertilizers. The COA found that it was overpriced by P717.50 per 300 milliliter bottle and P1,335 per 1 liter bottle.
The Palace said it welcomes the testimonies of more individuals who would like to provide more information on the fund scheme, but said those testimonies will have to be evaluated by the Justice department.
In a statement, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government is trying its best to give justice to Filipinos whose hard-earned taxes have been misused allegedly by politicians involved in the scam.
“The President had said it is important for the truth to be revealed,” Coloma added.