It is now crystal-clear why the Department of Justice has been delaying the filing of the third batch of pork barrel scam complaints with the office of the Ombudsman until today. The list of persons to be charged would include the prominent members of the ruling Liberal Party and the useful political allies of the Aquino administration in the past four years since 2010.
President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd certainly would not want his party and people to be put in a bad light with the 2016 presidential elections just two years away. It would adversely affect the chances of Liberal Party candidates and spoil the chance of the person he would endorse for the presidency.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as early as May last year had received the files on the details of transactions that businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind, facilitated from 2002-2012. This is a ten-year period when the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) allocations for members of Congress were channelled to ghost projects and commissions or “kickbacks.”
So the question now is why the NBI-DOJ has not filed the third batch of complaints with the Office of the Ombudsman until now. They had 12 months to evaluate and validate the same testimonies and su pporting documents from the whistleblowers that were used to file the two charges with the Office of the Ombudsman last year. The first batch of complaints was filed on September 16. 2013 and the second batch on November 29, 2013.
According to Atty Levito Baligod, the former lawyer of state witness Benhur Luy, his client signed the 2.000 copies of documents when he was interviewed last year by the NBI. These documents were copied from the same hard disk drive (HDD) that Luy’s parents gave to the Inquirer in April last year to expose the alleged plunder of public funds when the PDAF allocation went to ghost projects and kickbacks.
The details of the entries of the ten-year transactions were made upon the instruction of Napoles to Luy, who is the former finance officer of her company that allocated PDAF funds through her bogus non-government organizations (NGOs). Included in the list of Benhur Luy are 25 past and present senators.
When the second batch of complaints was filed by the DOJ in late November 2013, Atty. Baligod asked what happened to the names of administration allies in the second batch. The lawyer of the whistleblowers was referring to the senators aligned with the Aquino administration who should have been charged. The DOJ only filed cases against nine former and incumbent congressmen, such as Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa and Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Zenaida Cruz-Ducut of Pampanga.
As mentioned in my column last week (MT, 10 May 2014) entitled “Game of DOJ & Ombudsman on Pork barrel Scam,” sources of newspapers like the Philippines Daily Inquirer in early April last month revealed that the third batch will be finally filed either by the end of April or early May. However, this information or “leak” to the press did not materialize at all even after three weeks.
Could it be that someone of the highest position or authority in government is stopping it because the same source of the Inquirer divulged that those to be charged are members of the ruling Liberal Party and political allies of the Aquino administration?
Benhur Luy list vis-a-vis Napoles list
After the publication of the Benhur Luy list of 25 past and present senators in the Inquirer last Wednesday, May 14, 2014, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto Guingona III released the next day the signed Napoles List handed over by Justice Secrertary Leila de Lima, who was subpoenaed to submit the said list.
The Benhur Luy list appears more credible than the Napoles list given to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on 22 April 2014. The Napoles List excludes six names of senators that were on the Benhur List. Perhaps this is why former Senator Panfilo Lacson does not believe that the ‘Napoles List” is complete or a ‘Tell All.”
Some names, which Lacson believes should be included, are missing. His position is most probably based on personal knowledge or information of lawmakers and top officials of the Aquino government involved in the multi-billion corruption scandal.
However, the signed Napoles list includes the name of Senator Francis Escudero that is not on the Benhur Luy list. Very interesting.
Among the names of the senators in the signed Napoles List that are found in the Benhur List are Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Aquilino “Koko”Pimentel III, Allan Peter Cayetano, Gregorio Honasan, Manuel Villar, Robert Barbers (deceased), Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada.
Based on the list of Benhur Luy that also appeared in the signed list of Janet Lim Napoles, the most active participants in the P10.0 Billion Pork Barrel Scam are Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla. It looks like these three senators will most likely go to jail.
Most interesting about the Benhur list is that it has the mother and son tandem of former First Lady and Senator Loi Estrada and her son Senator Jinggoy Estrada who are allegedly involved in the embezzlement of state funds. Then on the same list is Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, who is also on the Napoles List when the illegitimate son of former President Joseph Estrada was still a congressman of San Juan when the transactions were supposed to have happened.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima should file the charges with the Office of the Ombudsman as soon as possible within this month against the third batch of persons involved in the despicable scam. There is no more reason for any delay. The NBI for one year now has the testimonies and supporting documents from the whistleblowers and now the signed Napoles list and her extended affidavit due for submission on May 22 next week.
The additional names of those involved in the PDAF scam contained in the Benhur and Napoles lists can be charged later, next month or even in July.
The Ombudsman seems to be also deferring its final decision on whether to file the complaints with the Sandiganbayan. What is Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales waiting for? It has been over a month since those accused like Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla submitted their Motions for Reconsideration. Time for the Trial of the Century to begin!