MANILA, Philippines–Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Sunday said the National Bureau of Investigation is open to a joint probe with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit on the supposed anomalous use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.
De Lima made the statement following the release of the COA report that said P6.156 billion funds were transferred by seven government agencies to 82 allegedly dubious non-government organizations from 2007 to 2009.
COA said among those that received funds include 10 NGOs linked to controversial businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
“Documents in COA’s possession, such as lawmakers’ letters designating implementing agencies and NGOs, requests for release of funds, SAROs, NCAs, MOAs, etc., will corroborate and strengthen the whistleblowers’ statements and own documentary evidence,” De Lima said.
She said the COA report would be used as a “major reference” for the needed evidentiary support to buttress and complete NBI’s ongoing probe.
“With the release of such COA Report, NBI’s probe will now be full blown,” the secretary said, adding that NBI is open for at least a parallel and coordinated probe with COA and Ombudsman.
De Lima, however, said that for now, they would put the focus of their investigation on transactions and NGOs that could have involved Napoles, as well as the lawmakers, executive officials/personnel and other individuals implicated by the whistleblowers.
An arrest warrant has been issued against Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim for illegal detention of Benhur Luy.