Ochoa on Luy’s deleted files: Estrada asks fund for farmers’ projects in 2012

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Friday, May 30, 2014

EXECUTIVE Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. on Friday confirmed that Senator Jinggoy Estrada sought for funding support worth P250 million for livelihood projects for small farmers in June 2012.

Ochoa issued the statement after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) retrieved from the deleted files of Benhur Luy, main whistleblower in the pork barrel scam, the Executive Secretary's surname.

"In June 2012, the Office of the President received a letter from Senator Jinggoy Estrada requesting funding support amounting to 250 million pesos for livelihood projects for small farmers located in various provinces," he said.

"As with requests of this nature, as well as those addressed to the President, the said letter was endorsed to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for appropriate action."

But based on the initial inquiries with the DBM, Ochoa said that no action was taken on the said request.

Meanwhile, in an earlier press briefing on Friday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. dismissed the supposed inclusion of Ochoa's name from the reported retrieved Luy's files.

Reports said that the NBI recovered from Luy's deleted files two draft letters addressed to Ochoa seeking financial assistance for the implementation of livelihood projects for small farmers such as organic farming for high value crops in various local government units.

"We note that the deleted files purportedly pertain to unsigned draft letters addressed to certain lawmakers and to Secretary Ochoa. Hence, this could hardly be considered as having any probative value," he said.

In a related issue, Coloma said the Palace is expecting the Office of the Ombudsman to come out next week with the decision regarding the motions for reconsideration filed by those charged with plunder in connection with the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of some lawmakers.

"At 'yon pong panahon na ayon sa batas ay gugugulin sa pag-aaral ng mga motions for reconsideration ay 60 days. ‘Yung 60 days po papatak na ‘yan sa susunod na linggo. Kaya kung susundan po natin ‘yung takbo ng proseso ng batas, ang susunod na hakbang ay makakarinig na po siguro tayo ng anunsiyo o pagpapahayag mula sa Office of the Ombudsman hinggil doon sa aksyon nila patungkol sa mga motions for reconsideration," he said.

Last April, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales came out with a resolution finding probable cause against certain individuals on the case of plunder related to the PDAF scam.

Among those who were recommended to be charged before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court were Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., and alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles.

Once the Office of the Ombudsman decided that it would no longer accept further motions from the accused, it would forward the information to Sandiganbayan, which would issue the warrants of arrest against those charged, Coloma said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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