Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and three other employees of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) insisted that the graft charges filed against them in connection with the pork barrel scam are “totally baseless” since they played no major role in the release of special allotment release orders (Saros).
Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare were charged with 11 counts of graft as co-accused of Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada at the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division.
But they said there is “no shred” of evidence to prove their culpability.
In a supplemental motion to the consolidated motion that they filed immediately after they were indicted at the Sandiganbayan, Relampagos said he signed only 10 of 42 Saros for the three senators allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam. These Saros were processed for four to 43 days.
He noted that the DBM Citizen’s Charter says that the whole process of issuing Saros should take 11 hours and 30 minutes.
“If that is the required time for the complete Saros and NCAs [notice of cash allotments]of which 30 minutes [are]allotted for the office of accused Relampagos who only signs in the absence of the DBM secretary at that, then the release of Saros and NCAs from 4 to 43 days certainly negates the element of alleged expedition of the release of the Saross as purported unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference,” the defense argued.
Defense lawyers said Relampagos had “no control” over the preparation of the Saros since the process covers several levels and his participation was limited only to signing them.
Lawyers for the defense said Nuñez, Bare and Paule “have absolutely no participation” in the release of Saros because these were personally hand-carried by the regional operations and coordination service (DBM-ROCS) director to Relampagos for signing. The documents were evaluated, prepared and recommended by technical staff, not by the undersecretary’s staff.
Pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy earlier said Nuñez, Bare and Paule were the contact persons at the DBM of alleged pork scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles.
According to the prosecution, the “extraordinary speed” with which they processed the documents indicated their participation in the scam and showed their bias for Napoles, her staff and non-government organizations (NGOs).
“Witnesses Luy and Merlina Sunas positively attest to the fact that the expedited processing of the Saros and the NCAs was made possible with the assistance of Nuñez, Paule and Bare. Napoles’ staff followed up with them to expedite the release of Saros and NCAs. Being their immediate superior, Relampagos was well aware of the follow-ups,” the prosecution said.
But Relampagos claimed that he never had any communication with Napoles.
He said follow-ups are normally made and it was the duty of Nuñez, Bare and Paule to entertain calls.
Pleadings filed by the accused in the “pork” cases handled by the Fifth Division were submitted for resolution last Friday.
Relampagos and the three DBM employees each posted P240,000 bail for their temporary liberty.