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DOJ OPENS NEW PORK CASES PROBE

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Task force created, eyes ex-President Aquino, allies part in PDAF, DAP mess

 

 

MANILA — Promising no selective justice as in the past administration, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has set into motion a new investigation into the multi-billion-peso anomalies involving lawmakers’ pork barrel dubbed the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Development Acceleration Program (DAP).

 

Aguirre said present and former legislators and Aquino administration officials who were never investigated on their pork barrel and who may have escaped public scrutiny and the Commission on Audit (CoA) special audit will also be the subject of investigation.

 

Earlier reports indicated that former President Benigno Aquino III, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and former Senate President Franklin Drilon could be the officials to be investigated.


Last month, Aguirre said during a press briefing that allies of former President Aquino like Senators Leila de Lima, Antonio Trillanes IV, and  Drilon and former Budget Secretary Abad were implicated in the PDAF scam.

 

Another report indicated former Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II may also be investigated.


Aguirre said lawyer Stephen David, Napoles’ counsel, informed him that Napoles revealed that de Lima, Trillanes, Drilon and Abad were allegedly involved in the anomalous budget program


Aguirre has created a special task force to look into the anomalous multi-billion-peso pork barrel funds. “I have already ordered the reorganization of the Task Force on PDAF cases for the purpose of reinvestigation. I designated Undersecretary Antonio “Richie” Kho as head of the task force,” Aguirre said.

 

Kho’s team is composed of prosecutors and agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), according to the Justice chief.

 

The Justice chief said that the new task force replaced the NBI task force created by former Justice chief and current Senator de Lima, who is now detained on drug trafficking charges.


De Lima’s task force that launched the fact-finding probe on the PDAF scam during the Aquino administration only led to the plunder indictment of opposition personalities.

 

Aguirre said several former Cabinet officials close to former President Benigno Noynoy Aquino III would be among those to be investigated.

 

These officials are not yet off the hook, Aguirre stressed as he vowed that the new task force will rectify the “miscarriage of justice” in the earlier probe conducted by the previous administration.


“Just as it was in the previous investigation, the statements and evidence will be validated through records from relevant implementing agencies and the Commission on Audit,” Aguirre said.


“But this time, we can assure the public that there will be no selective justice - unlike what happened in the previous administration,” the Justice chief vowed.


Aguirre said a new probe into the pork barrel scam was necessary as a result of the “selective justice” applied during the earlier probe, where the investigation centered on only three opposition lawmakers, namely former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., the last two still held at the PNP Detention Center in Camp Crame pending their trial.

 

No other senator had been charged with plunder but officials had hinted some senators could face plunder after the investigation.


While a handful of congressional allies of the previous administration were charged, they were charged merely for graft, which is a bailable offense.

 

Aguirre said the new task force will handle the fact-finding probe into the alleged anomalies in the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the unlawfully implemented and controversial budget program of the Aquino administration.


In the case of the DAP filed against Aquino and former budget chief Florencio “Butch” Abad, the Ombudsman, known to protect the former president and his officials, quickly absolved Aquino while merely giving Abad a slap in the wrist. 


The Ombudsman was even quoted by media as saying that Aquino is “corrupt free”even before cases of plunder and corruption against him were investigated.


Aguirre said the panel would also meet with Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David and anti-pork advocate Greco Belgica for gathering of evidence.


The new task force will kick off the probe with the affidavit and documentary evidence to be submitted by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged pork barrel scam queen, Aguirre said.

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