FORMER Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla have sunk into a new low with the complaint of the Office of the Ombudsman indicting them in the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam.
The Ombudsman through its Field Investigation Office (FIO) finally wrapped up its fact-finding investigation on the widely criticized Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) also called pork barrel.
On top of the complaint the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed against the three senators, the Ombudsman has finally submitted their report on the P10-billion legislative fund controversy.
The FIO complaint will be taken in by a special panel of graft investigators who will evaluate for its consolidation with the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
To recall, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the FIO in July to conduct a motu propio (on one’s own initiative) investigation in response to accuser Benhur Luy’s exposé of the pork barrel scam.
This declaration from Morales was at a time when the NBI was still building up the plunder complaint, which was eventually filed on September 16 at the Ombudsman.
The NBI complaint implicated Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Janet Lim-Napoles, months after public clamor erupted against the controversial raiding of public coffers by channeling funds to non-government organizations for bogus projects.
The Ombudsman in a statement said that FIO teams gathered numerous documents and interviewed at least 1,500 witnesses in more than 100 cities and municipalities in 39 provinces.
Included in the scope of investigation are the municipalities of Dula, Javier, Babatngon in Leyte province; Passi City in Iloilo province; and town of Llorente in Eastern Samar province, which Super Typhoon Yolanda recently bulldozed.
The FIO fact-finding investigation report will now be assigned to a special panel of Ombudsman investigators, who will conduct the preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication for consolidation with the NBI complaint.
Upon consolidation and evaluation, the investigating panel will now direct the respondents to submit their counter-affidavits and controverting evidence.
Besides criminal charges, the senators are also facing administrative charges of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The administrative complaints of Estrada, Revilla and Enrile will be referred to the Senate Ethics Committee, which has administrative disciplinary jurisdiction over members of the Senate, for appropriate action.
The FIO recommendation on the members of the House of Representatives is being reviewed and finalized.
FIO Assistant Ombudsman Joselito Fangon acknowledged the cooperation of the NBI, the DOJ Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program officers, the Commission on Audit and other members of the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council, in the process of scanning through the voluminous pieces of evidence available across the country.