Ombudsman assigns 3 teams to probe pork barrel scam
MANILA, Philippines–Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has assigned no less than 45 members of her agency to work on the pork barrel scam investigation, even as she refused to be pressured by public calls to file charges immediately.
Morales said she has already put three 15-member teams to work “to speed up this case” while waiting for the report of the National Bureau of Investigation.
She said she has not been told of the supposed plan of the Department of Justice to transmit to them on Monday the NBI’s fact-finding report on the case against alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
“I have created three teams of 15 members each (for various tasks). There are those who analyze (evidence), those who validate and those who will write the recommendation,” Morales told reporters Friday at the inaugural Ombudsman-sponsored lecture that featured a former member of Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission.
“As much as we’d like to accelerate the proceedings, we cannot really determine (when to file the case). But we are trying because people are expecting results. You cannot file (a case) just to meet public expectations that it should be filed right away,” she continued.
“No we don’t do that. There is such a thing as due process. We have to be very sure of what we are doing,” Morales stressed.
She said Benhur Luy, Napoles’ aide-turned-accuser, has already faced the Ombudsman’s own fact-finding investigators.
But the Ombudsman panel was no longer able to ask former NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas “clarificatory” questions because he resigned before the scheduled interview last week.
Morales said she herself has not spoken to Luy.
The retired Supreme Court justice said she did not watch the testimony of Luy before the Senate blue ribbon committee Thursday because she had been busy.
“I was so occupied in my work. My attention was called by my staff but I just took a glance. I saw Luy was smiling, that’s all I saw,” she said.
The Office of the Ombudsman is conducting its parallel fact-finding investigation while waiting for the NBI to submit its own findings and recommendation through the DOJ.
It is ultimately up to the Ombudsman if charges will be filed.
“We try to see to it that it’s going to be a very exhaustive fact-finding investigation. It’s very difficult to predict how much time (the investigation will take). We are not aware yet of the magnitude of the problem,” Morales said.