• Miriam to prosecute officials in ‘pork’ scam

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    Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago reiterated her promise to prosecute officials involved in the “pork barrel” scam on top of her avowed commitment to abolish all forms of “pork barrel” such as the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program.

    Santiago’s pronouncement came in the wake of last week’s indictment by the Office of the Ombudsman of several former members of the House of Representatives accused of receiving kickbacks from Janet Lim-Napoles.

    If elected president, Santiago said she will expedite the investigation and prosecution of cases lodged against those involved in the “pork barrel” scam in order to prevent them from committing the same crimes again.

    The Office of the Ombudsman last week ordered the filing of cases against former Rep. Arthur Pingoy of South Cotabato who allegedly received P7.5 million in kickbacks; former Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas 4th of Davao Del Sur who was accused of receiving P5.5 million; and former Rep. Arrel Olaño of Davao del Norte who reportedly got P3.17 million.

    In a speech delivered before some 3,000 students and faculty members of the Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela City, Santiago underlined the need to speedily convict those involved in the scam to ensure that no more government funds will be diverted from public use.

    “If these corrupt politicians remain at large, they will return to power and again steal public funds,” the feisty senator said

    Out of the 14 senators and 120 congressmen implicated by “pork barrel” scam whistleblower Benhur Luy in 2013, the Department of Justice only managed so far to file complaints against three opposition senators and 25 members of the House.

    Pingoy, Cagas, Olaño, and two others will be facing charges for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019), Malversation (Article 217, Revised Penal Code), and Direct Bribery.

    The Office of the Ombudsman also found probable cause to indict former Rep. Zenaida Ducut of Pampanga and several officials of the Department of Budget and Management, Technology Resource Center, National Business Corporation and representatives of non-governmental organizations, including Napoles.

    JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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