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MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers involved in the alleged multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam will be charged after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) completes its investigation in a few weeks.
Speaking to reporters, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said they were able to confirm the involvement of some senators and members of the House of Representatives.
“But we do not know yet whether the list we have now is a complete list,” she said.
De Lima declined to name the senators and House members allegedly involved in the reported use of bogus NGOs and even forged signatures in funneling the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers.
“It’s not advisable or it’s not prudent for us to be naming names, especially that we are still in the process of validation,” she said.
“There are names being mentioned (in the media) but we can only file charges on those that are backed by sufficient evidence, both testimonial and documentary.”
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De Lima also refused to say whether the lawmakers involved belong to the administration or the opposition.
“The NBI does not engage itself in any partisan concern, or its investigation is not affected or damaged by any partisan or political color,” she said.
At Malacañang, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said it would be up to the NBI to decide whether to invite lawmakers and other officials implicated in P10-billion PDAF scam.
“Their cooperation is needed in the investigation,” she said.
“As some of them would probably tell you, there were reports that came out saying some signatures were forged, etcetera. So it is also in the interest of those people named to clear their name.”
Valte said it’s important to find out who really were involved and who were only used.
“Let’s leave it up to the NBI as to what it should do with regard to the investigation,” he said.
Valte said it would be up to the lawmakers to decide whether to investigate the issue.
“At least for the Senate, I understand that the position of the Senate President (Franklin Drilon) is that they would leave it to other agencies (to investigate), primarily because some of their colleagues were being mentioned,” she said.
“So the point of the Senate President is that there might be doubts if they would be the ones to (conduct the probe). But we’ll leave that to the determination of both bodies.
“At the Lower House, there were those opposing while there were those calling for (an investigation). So we will leave it to their membership to determine if there would be an investigation in both chambers.”
Valte said the NBI can do its job even if influential people were implicated.
“Perhaps we can look at the recent record of the NBI, and how their investigations have gone, and we can look at how impartial these investigations have been, as well as the basis for their recommendations, and we can go on from there,” she said.
“Certainly, as we have assured in the past, the NBI investigation is and will continue to be objective and impartial.”
De Lima rejected yesterday a call from Janet Lim Napoles for inhibition of the NBI over questions on their impartiality.
In a text message, she said the fear of lawyer Lorna Kapunan that the NBI agents had rescued whistleblower Benhur Luy last March and filed serious illegal detention charges against Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim is baseless.
“May I assure Attorney Lorna, her clients and the public of a fair, objective and thorough probe by the NBI, as always,” she said
“We’re ever conscious that integrity and credibility are essential ingredients of any probe, especially high-profile cases like the Napoles scams.”
De Lima said it’s not for any party, especially subjects of investigations, to impose conditions or dictate on the NBI. – Paolo Romero, Edu Punay, Aurea Calica, Aie Balagtas See, Evelyn Macairan
Originally posted here: Lawmakers to be charged for ‘pork’ scam – De Lima – Philippine Star
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