Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ombudsman leads joint inquiry with DOJ, COA - Inquirer.net


Three women head the key bodies tasked to investigate the P10-billion pork barrel scandal.

"This is a joint, collaborative effort," said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in a news conference, a day after protest rallies gathered 100,000 at the Luneta park in Manila, 3,000 in Cebu City's Plaza Independencia and thousands more angry Netizens in an online campaign to urge President Benigno Aquino III to scrap the graft-ridden congressional fund.

The Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) will start its own inquiry into the misuse of congressional pork barrel funds and will file appropriate charges against perpetrators.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales leads the council with the DOJ and Commission on Audit (COA) as members.

Morales and de Lima said the council was taking over the investigation into the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in order to build a strong case in court.

"There is no reason why we can't come up with correct findings…. There are a hundred ways to establish evidence and prove a case," De Lima said.

"It depends on the evidence. We will go as far as the evidence takes us."

COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan, the third member, was not present at the press conference as she is abroad.

The IAAGCC was formed in 1999 to frame strategies in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of graft cases.

De Lima said the council has not set a deadline for its work since the case build-up would take time.

"It is always difficult to fix a definite timetable. The tendency is, because we are pressured, the results would be half-baked," she said.

Carpio-Morales appealed for patience from the public, saying that the conduct of preliminary investigation was part of the due process.

She assured that the joint investigation would be impartial, saying she had no record of favoring any accused regardless of their standing in society.

De Lima said the investigation would not rely solely on the 2007-2009 COA special report, which confirmed the waste of funds through ghost projects and bogus non-government organizations,.

She said the COA report would serve as reference for the "gathering of necessary or supporting documentary evidence."

Carpio-Morales agreed, saying the COA report will be used for case build-up. She said the COA had no prosecutorial powers and noted that was the reason its repeated requests for documents were ignored.

Ombudsman Morales said she had formed a team to look into the issue as early as July this year following talk of the illegal detention of one of the whistleblowers.

She cautioned the public against premature judgment, saying it was only the courts that could declare a person guilty of a crime.


A separate investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is expected to implicate several lawmakers in charges to be filed in the Ombudsman's Office in a week or two.

"The cases that will be filed by the NBI, some lawmakers will be included pending the evidence that will be gathered. The NBI is organizing the documentary support before filing the case. It will include already some lawmakers," de Lima said.

Carpio-Morales said they have requested documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Budget and Management, and The Anti-Money Laundering Council.

The IAAGCC will also trace the paper trails and pertinent documents as provided by the Department of Finance (DOF), NBI, Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Office of the President.

Asked about Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the P10-billion scam, who has dropped out of sight, De Lima said there was no indication that Napoles, and her brother Reynald Lim, have left the country.

"All existing leads that have been gathered point to the fact that they are still here but they are hiding," De Lima said.

The siblings, tagged as "fugitves," have been in hiding since an arrest warrant was released against them for the illegal detention of whistle-blower Benhur Luy. From INQUIRER reports

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Tags: COA , DoJ , IAAGCC , News , pork barrel scam

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