MANILA, Philippines—Court of Appeals Associate Justice Danton Bueser has inhibited himself from hearing cases in his division involving Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
When he was a congressman in 2007, Bueser was reported to have given his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, to questionable nongovernment organizations.
Bueser, then the representative of the 3rd district of Laguna, was named in the Commission on Audit (COA) report on the questionable use of pork barrel funds from 2007 to 2009 for having allocated nearly P20 million to two NGOs which were among 82 found to be questionable.
The COA report said Bueser allocated P9.6 million to the Philippine Environment and Economic Development Association and P9.8 million to Aaron Foundation Philippines. Both NGOs were among the 82 NGOs that were recipients of pork found by COA to be dubious and questionable. However, they were not among the 10 NGOs linked to Napoles.
In a statement, Bueser acknowledged being a member of the appellate court division hearing the cases against Napoles but pointed out that “records would show that the rulings are not favorable to her.”
“To cast any doubt and speculations in the mind of the public which could affect the dignity of the court and my credibility as a magistrate, I am recusing myself from handling these cases,” he said.
Bueser is part of the appellate court’s 2nd Division and had last week concurred in a decision ordering the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to scrutinize the 430 bank accounts of Napoles, her family members and her corporations as well as that of whistle-blowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Suna.
The appellate division gave the AMLC five months to look into the bank accounts.
As to his alleged dealings with the two questionable NGOs, Bueser denied having endorsed the NGOs or transacted business with them.
That’s why he said he would ask the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the authenticity of the documents and signatures on the alleged transactions involving his PDAF.
“I am very willing to cooperate with the authorities because I strongly believe my signatures were forged,” said Bueser, who represented the 3rd district of Laguna in the 11th, 12th and 13th Congress from 1998-2007.