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Latest News Philippines: Ombudsman probes pork barrel scandal – Journal.com.ph:
THE Office of the Ombudsman has created a special team that will look into the alleged P10-billion scam in “ghost projects” funded by the legislators’ pork.
According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, the probe panel is composed of six graft investigators who will conduct parallel investigation with the National Bureau of Investigation.
The NBI is currently investigating the expose of whistleblower Benhur Luy who pointed to his former boss Janet Lim Napoles as the one who hatched the scheme that involved five senators and 23 members of the House of Representatives.
Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Gringo Honasan denied having knowledge about the multibillion-peso “pork scam”.
Revilla claimed it was a clear political agenda against those who are seen to be “threats” in the 2016 Presidential elections. He said the plot has the “blessings” of Malacañang which in turn denied it through Deputy Spokesperson Abegail Valte.
The Ombudsman even without receiving a complaint, may initiate an investigation into “any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient” under Republic Act 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989).
Morales said that the creation of a special panel was in response to news reports about Luy’s allegations that Napoles was the pork scheme’s mastermind.
Napoles denied Luy’s allegation and claimed Luy was covering up his case involving P5 million he took from the company and another P300,000 in cash which he was supposed to deposit in his boss’ accounts.
Contrary to her claims that she and her companies were never involved in this case, the Ombudsman said that records disclosed that Napoles, Luy and several NGO officers are facing complaints in the “fertilizer fund scam” cases before this Office.
Records also reveal that the Office has been conducting field investigation involving apparent anomalies and irregularities in the implementation of livelihood programs/projects funded by the PDAF of three senators and one congressman.
Under its charter (RA 6770, Sec. 15), the Office of the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, and has the authority to file corruption-related criminal charges, upon a finding of probable cause, against high-ranking officers.
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