Government prosecutors should reveal the identities of the personalities involved in scams involving P10 billion in pork barrel and P900 million in Malampaya natural-gas fund, a lawmaker said on Friday.
Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list made the call a day after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales rejected a request for immunity by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles on the ground that the latter appears to be the most guilty in the pork barrel scam alone.
”In an affidavit executed by Napoles, the identities of several agents and key persons remain hazy. There’s the so-called ‘little DBM’ who supposedly fast-tracked the release of the P900-million Malampaya fund in time for the 2010 elections, [but]who Napoles only identified as ‘RR.’ Who is RR? And who are the other persons mentioned in the affidavit but [who were identified]only through [their]first names or nicknames?” Ridon said.
He was referring to Napoles’ affidavit dated May 12 that the businesswoman submitted to the Senate blue ribbon committee, investigator of the two scams.
In the affidavit, Napoles also disclosed that there was an instance wherein Ruby Tuason negotiated the release of P900 million allegedly from the Malampaya fund for the 2010 elections and that Tuason told her that there was nothing to worry about because Tuason’s boss named “RR” is a “little DBM,” referring to the Department of Budget and Management.
Tuason, social secretary of then-President Joseph Estrada, who was later convicted of plunder, has been granted immunity from prosecution by the Ombudsman on the grounds that she has personal knowledge of lawmakers joining the looting of the P10 billion in pork barrel and that her accounts of the racket jive with what have been told by whistleblowers in their affidavits.
Moreover, Tuason returned P40 million to the government in check that she claimed to be the amount of her share from the P10 billion.
“If we want to know the real scope and breadth of this grand scam, we need to know the identities of everyone involved. No stone must be left unturned. Surely, there are influential people backing up all these agents allegedly working with legislators, persons who Napoles dare not expose,” Ridon, a lawyer, said.
”If we want to get to the bottom of this scam, we need to catch the big fish and prosecute them, not just their agents and sidekicks. Otherwise, the ongoing pork barrel investigation would prove to be an exercise in futility,” he added.
His Kabataan party-list group will join a nationwide indignation rally against the alleged cover-up of the pork barrel scam on June 12 to coincide with Philippine Independence Day.
Ridon’s colleagues in the House of Representatives, meanwhile, berated Napoles for threatening to conceal evidence in the pork barrel scam if she is not granted immunity from prosecution as she had demanded.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Representatives Romero Quimbo of Marikina City (Metro Manila), Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro and Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list also on Friday said the detained businesswoman cannot make demands.
“Most of the documents [needed as evidence for the prosecution of Napoles and others in the pork scam]are in the implementing agencies, the Commission on Audit and the Department of Budget and Management, except for those receipts for kickbacks, if anybody issued any. Such documents from her may be helpful, but not essential,” Belmonte, a lawyer, said in a text message.
“The absence of such documents from Napoles will not diminish the government’s cases against the PDAF scam perpetrators but it certainly diminishes Napoles’ credibility. Isn’t that blackmail when she puts a condition on disclosing the truth?” Quimbo, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said.
Before the PDAF was outlawed by the Supreme Court in November 2013, P70 million of it was allotted to each member of the House of Representatives every year for projects for their constituents.
Senators are allotted P200 million each every year.
“The prosecution should be able to source the evidence elsewhere. The government is not without power to produce the necessary evidence if it wants to succeed in prosecuting the case,” Umali, also a lawyer, said.
“The government should not be held hostage by the self-serving demands of Napoles.
Prosecutors should be capable of building a case against her and all others involved in the PDAF scam without her cooperation,” Tinio, the House Deputy Minority Leader, said.
The Ombudsman has granted immunity to Napoles’ accusers and whistleblowers Ruby Tuason, Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Suñas, Mary Arlene Baltazar and Simonette Briones.