Third batch of cases-A A +A
Monday, June 16, 2014
A THIRD batch of cases will be filed in the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance (PDAF) scam. And considering the scope of the said scam, there’s bound to be a fourth batch of cases, even possibly a fifth batch or more. Other cases will possibly be filed in the fertilizer fund and Malampaya fund scams.
That’s how pre-occupied the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan will be in the next years. That’s a reality those who are eager to go into the prosecution phase of the scam probe should accept. Another reality: the next cases that will be filed will already see officials identified with the current administration.
A story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer said that a third batch of cases will soon be filed by the DOJ against the other personalities linked to the PDAF scam. The source of the report wasn’t mentioned, but the cases that will be filed wouldn’t be plunder but for the “lesser” malversation of public funds. The DOJ hasn’t confirmed the report as of this writing.
But the Inquirer mentioned names, and the respondents would reportedly include an independent senator and a former congressman who is currently an official of the Aquino administration, aside of course from businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles. Those to be charged coursed their PDAF allocations through Napoles’s non-government organizations from 2007 to 2009.
Readers should note the years because the pilferage of PDAF funds involving Napoles straddles the period from 2002 to 2010 and involved possibly more than a hundred personalities, many of them past and present members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. That means the DOJ isn’t even half-way into its task yet.
And why 2007 to 2009? Because the Commission on Audit (COA) conducted a special audit of PDAF allocations during that period. The COA special audit report is being used by the DOJ to counter-check the claims of the whistle-blowers of the scam led by Benhur Luy. As Justice Secretary Leila de Lima would explain the process, the DOJ has to make sure that the cases they would file would stand scrutiny by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan.
Thirty-nine personalities were charged in the first batch of cases, which were for plunder. Among the “big fishes” in that batch were Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla aside from, again, Napoles. “Plunder” means that those charged pocketed public funds amounting to P50 million or more.
The second batch of cases involved 34 respondents, including seven former House members, and was for the “lower” graft charges. The third batch should be lodged in the next few days.
De Lima had said that the third batch would be the last 2007-2009 PDAF scam cases that will be filed. The DOJ will then possibly proceed to the other years and to the fertilizer and Malampaya funds scams. I think this will be done in tandem with a deeper look at the affidavit that Napoles submitted to the DOJ and the so-called “Napolists.”
So there. The process may be slow but it is being done to ensure that those involved in the scam could not evade prosecution or get an acquittal and so no one would be wrongly charged.
That does not mean we should not monitor closely what the DOJ will do in the next months or years. We should guard against possible special treatment, especially in cases involving officials of the Aquino administration. But it would be wrong to use the slowness of the process to advance a political agenda.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 17, 2014.