DOJ willing to help Ombudsman in prosecuting PDAF cases

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

PROSECUTORS from the Department of Justice (DOJ) can be tapped to aid counterparts from the Office of the Ombudsman in defending the cases against government officials and private individuals linked to the pork barrel scam, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday.

"It's within the prerogative and powers of the Ombudsman to also deputize other prosecutors but under the general supervision and control of the special panel of prosecutors of the Ombudsman," she told reporters, adding this is only possible if requested by the anti-graft body.

The Ombudsman has yet to file the plunder and graft cases before the Sandiganbayan pending resolution of the appeals, if any, of the respondents, particularly Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada and the alleged scam mastermind Janet Napoles.

Enrile, Revilla and Estrada allegedly got kickbacks amounting to more than P172 million, P242 million and P183 million, respectively, for diverting their PDAF to Napoles' fake non-government organizations (NGOs), whose projects turned out to be non-existent.

The senators denied any wrongdoing, so with Napoles, who is currently detained for alleged serious illegal detention of former personal assistant Benhur Luy, the main whistleblower of the multibillion-peso scam.

Revilla has a pending petition before the Supreme Court (SC) asking it to block the preliminary investigation against him for alleged grave abuse of discretion.

An oral argument was set for April 22 as de Lima said it is up to the SC to determine if the petition has been mooted by the release of the Ombudsman's resolution on the complaints filed by the whistleblowers and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). (Sunnex)

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