Inter-agency PDAF scam probe eyed

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Latest News Philippines: Inter-agency PDAF scam probe eyed –

JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday suggested an inter-agency probe into the raging pork barrel controversy to be composed of the Department of Justice, Office of the Ombudsman, and Commission on Audit.

CoA recently released a report on the alleged misuse of over P6 billion in controversial funds by some 200 lawmakers.

“With the release of such CoA Report, NBI’s probe will now be full blown. Having said that, NBI remains open to a joint probe with both Ombudsman and CoA, or at least a parallel, coordinated probe with both offices, which anyway is being undertaken now de facto,” she said in a text message.

CoA’s report covered only the period of 2007 to 2009. Witnesses of NBI, however, claimed the racket has been perpetrated by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles for the past 10 years.

De Lima noted that CoA’s findings covered “a much wider web of anomalies surrounding the pork barrel releases,” hence justifying a wide probe among different government agencies.

“For now, the focus is on Napoles and Napoles-related transactions and NGOs, as well as the lawmakers, executive officials and personnel and other individuals implicated by the whistleblowers,” she explained.

De Lima expressed belief the CoA report will support the case against Napoles and several lawmakers who have been found liable by the NBI, revealing that it “supports and enhances NBI’s findings thus far.”

“Certainly, the CoA Report will be utilized as a major reference for the needed evidentiary support to buttress and complete NBI’s ongoing probe. Documents in CoA’s possession — lawmakers’ letters designating implementing agencies and NGOs, requests for release of funds and SAROs — will corroborate and strengthen the whistleblowers’ statements and NBI’s own documentary evidence,” she stressed.

In its report, CoA bared that at least 12 senators and around 180 congressmen, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), funneled P6.156 billion in pork barrel funds to 82 questionable NGOs from 2007 to 2009.

It said 10 of the dubious NGOs had links to Napoles, while six had links to sponsoring lawmakers through relatives.

There were only 12 senators linked to the controversy, but the 135-page CoA report mentioned 15.


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