MANILA, Philippines—She’s not scared. But they’d better be scared of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
After receiving a threatening phone call in connection with her office’s probe into the pork barrel scam, a feisty Carpio-Morales issued fighting words on Thursday, saying she would not be cowed.
“Excuse me, I’m not scared. Maybe they are scared, which is why they’re trying to scare me,” she told reporters at the House of Representatives on the sidelines of a budget hearing by the committee on appropriations.
She said her secretary received the call at 1 p.m. while she was attending a forum at the Asian Development Bank.
The threat, she was told, was in connection with her office’s inquiry into the alleged diversion of billions of pesos from the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund to ghost projects and kickbacks.
“The caller said I should take care, that I should do what is right. Well, excuse me, I’d like to believe what I’ve been doing is in accordance with what is right, in accordance with the facts vis-a-vis the law applicable to the facts,” Carpio-Morales said.
It was the first time she received a threat related to the pork barrel scam, “but as far as threatening calls are concerned, there have been others.”
“I have told you once and for all that when it’s your time it’s your time. I’m not scared. They are the ones who are scared. That’s why they’re trying to counter-scare me,” Carpio-Morales added.
Carpio-Morales earlier announced that the eight-member Interagency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) would look into the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds uncovered in a special audit from 2007 to 2009.
The results of the review, conducted by the Commission on Audit and released last week, showed that 82 non-governmental organizations received P6.165 billion from allocations of 12 senators and 180 representatives from their PDAF allocations, or pork barrel.
The inter-agency probe is separate from the fact-finding inquiry being conducted by the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation into the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, who was arrested this week
Carpio-Morales said the inter-agency group will meet next week to “confirm, affirm and validate” whatever the various investigation agencies had agreed upon.
As to whether Napoles would be called for questioning, she said, “it would depend, if we would put her as one of the respondents because the only charge now so far is illegal detention.”
“Until we get a report and recommendation [from the National Bureau of Investigation], everything is on hold, but in the meantime we are conducting our own internal independent investigation,” she said. “I have no copy of affidavits of the whistle-blowers, which is why we subpoenaed the whistle-blowers. We will ourselves secure their affidavits.”
Carpio-Morales clarified that the Ombudsman’s internal fact-finding probe “does not involve” individual senators or congressmen.
“We’re only conducting a fact-finding investigation. Until we are firm in our findings that congressmen or senators are involved, they will not be subjected to the investigation,” she said.
She stressed that the probe would not be selective and target only the opponents of the Aquino administration.
“The fact of being an ally or not being an ally – and I don’t know who are the allies and who are not the allies – will not be factored in the investigation of the case. Sorry if turns out allies are involved and indicted. Sorry, but that’s my mandate,” Carpio-Morales said.
She said the probe would follow the usual procedures, from the fact-finding probe to the case buildup. “If we think there ought to be a preliminary investigation, we will issue subpoenas to the respondents and ask them to file counter-affidavits.”
The Ombudsman said her office would move for a quick resolution.
“Of course, who doesn’t like speedy investigations? And that’s the reason why I asked we should have good lawyers because good lawyers will not see to it that there’s going to be dilatory tactics. We want these cases sped up,” she said.
“Look, the outcry of the public for justice is speedy justice. I cannot be part of this procedure which tries to slacken the disposition of cases,” she said.