• More ‘big fish’ included in 3rd batch of plunder charges

    11

    Two former senators and two incumbent ones are among the respondents in the third batch of big personalities who face plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam, a highly placed source privy to the case told The Manila Times on Friday.

    The source, who declined to be identified, refused to name names, only revealing that they are perceived to be allies of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

    His revelation came as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also on Friday hinted that plunder charges will be filed against Batch 3 composed of government and private individuals who are accused of pocketing huge kickbacks from the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel, coursed through fake non-government organizations (NGOs) owned by now jailed businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

    The Justice chief clarified that there are actually two sets of cases being readied by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

    The third batch of cases will be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman anytime this month.

    De Lima said lawmakers, officials of the NGOs and officials or employees of implementing agencies, including Napoles, are respondents in the third batch.

    She did not give details on the background or identities of the third batch of alleged plunderers. But some respondents are new personalities, who were not included in the first two batches.

    De Lima, however, said the officials are in the same level as the three senators—Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.—who were included in the first batch of plunder cases filed previously. Early this week, the Ombudsman indicted the three senators. Pending resolution of any motion for reconsideration, the Sandiganbayan is expected to issue arrest orders against them before the start of litigation.

    Former Customs Commissioner Rufino Rozzano “Ruffy” Biazon led the second batch of pork barrel-related cases with 33 others. This batch was submitted to the Ombudsman in November for resolution.

    The NBI is ready to file the two new sets of pork barrel-scam complaints, according to de Lima.

    “It is now only a matter of deciding which one to file first,” she told reporters.

    Asked how many will be charged in the third batch, de Lima said she was not sure.

    In the first batch, plunder cases were filed against Enrile’s chief-of-staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, Revilla’s chief-of-staff Richard Cambe, Enrile and Estrada’s alleged representative Ruby Tuason, Estrada’s staff Pauline Labayen and Technology Resource Center Director General Dennis Cunanan, among others.

    Tuason and Cunanan’s applications to the Witness Protection
    Program were accepted temporarily.

    The decision on whether senators involved in the pork barrel scam should be punished rests solely with the Senate, which is under the leadership of Senate President Franklin Drilon, a staunch Palace ally and partymate of the President.

    According to Malacanang spokesman Edwin Lacierda, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s call for the Senate to investigate their other colleagues who were alleged to have dipped their hands into their PDAF is something that is covered by the chamber’s own rules.

    “But there are rules and procedures in the Senate as to when a particular senator may be suspended and those rules have been mentioned by [Drilon],” Lacierda told a news briefing on Friday.

    “The call for the senators to go on leave is best addressed to their own judgment,” he said.

    Lacierda, a lawyer, explained that while he supports the call for due process, there are effective rules in place when it comes to suspension of any legislator from the House or the Senate.

    “I think that is something that the senators themselves, as a body, should discuss and… My impression and my belief is that there are already rules in place for the senators and for the Senate as a body to discuss. So, we would rather not discuss that comment in a separate branch of government,” he said.

    On Thursday, Santiago said that since the Office of the Ombudsman has found sufficient evidence to file plunder and other criminal charges against Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, the Senate leadership should also initiate an investigation into complaints against other senators who allegedly “misused” their own pork.

    Santiago noted that the Ombudsman’s move to indict the three senators should serve as a wake-up call for the Senate to conduct another inquiry, this time focused on several senators who are suspected to have released their pork barrel to organizations controlled by Napoles.

    The yet to be convened Senate committee on ethics should pursue the inquiry, she said.

    Other senators whose names cropped up in the course of the probe of the pork barrel controversy are Gregorio Honasan 2nd, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vicente Sotto 3rd.

    The four have issued denials.

    Santiago suggested that Enrile, Estrada and Revilla should be detained in an ordinary jail together with other ordinary detainees once they are charged with plunder and ordered arrested by the Sandiganbayan.

    Since plunder is a non-bailable offense, she said, her colleagues should be sent straight to jail.

    With Joel M. Sy Egco

    Share.
    loading...
    Loading...

    Please follow our commenting guidelines.

    11 Comments

    1. naniniwala akong isang paran din to para mabaling sa iba ang kaso. tatakas na naman tong sina revilla! tsk

    2. What does Santiago want to do? Finish the case of Revilla Estrada and Enrille first before dropping other names.

    3. They should focus more on the case of the three senators, estrada, revilla and enrille. baka kasi mabasura pa ang kaso.

    4. Robertley Barrameda on

      I STRONGLY AGREE WITH SENATOR SANTIAGO PARA MA-LEKSYON ANG MGA PULITIKONG CORRUPT. SANA, SI SENATOR SANTIAGO NA ANG SUMUNOD NA PRESIDENTE NG BANSA PARA TULOY NA ANG PAG DISIPLINA SA MGA PULITIKONG MAGNANAKAW NG KABAN NG BAYAN UPANG TULOY TULOY NA ANG PAG-UNLAD NG ATING BAYANG PILIPINAS…

    5. Rosauro Feliciano on

      We suggest that the lady Senator be the next President of this nation in order to continue going after corrupt inept public officials.

    6. Tim Matimtiman on

      Big fish! Let’s have them. Please include Tupas, Drilon and other PNoy allies that have been associated with Napoles since I understand the second batch still Napoles’ chums. Angara is an exception since in his pork plunder he created his own NGO so 100% yan wala ng nangumisyon. The third batch must include other fake NGOs as this is now an industry catering not only to senators, congressmen, but also local governments.

    7. Jose R, Bonifacio on

      It’s OK with everybody to put all those people involved locked up. At least the system is working in one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

    8. If they could only refrain from dipping their hands on illegal sana mabuti na ang lagay ng Pilipinas.

    9. America fought for the Philippines in the Second World War. We expect them again this time with China. What have our Country been doing all these years? Corrupting itself off Course. What a shame. Its seems our Government in the Capital is the one doing most of the Corrupting. The Central Government should lead an example against Graft and Corruption so that the rest of the Country will have to follow. A lot of the Tagalog people would strongly say that we can not get rid of Corruption, simply because they are the ones who are doing it.

    10. mikhail hieronymus on

      It looks like this time, it is for real. Let hope so. Go Senator Mariam Santiago, Hit harder!!!