Revilla aide asks SC to stop Ombudsman
MANILA, Philippines—Lawyer Richard Cambe, Sen. Bong Revilla’s chief of staff, has asked the Supreme Court to stop the Office of the Ombudsman from prosecuting him for plunder in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
In a 29-page petition, Cambe insisted that he had nothing to do with the scam, adding that his signatures in the documents for the projects funded by Revilla’s PDAF—from which the senator allegedly received kickbacks—were all forgeries.
Cambe also said his right to due process was violated because he had not been given a chance to contest the Commission on Audit’s (COA) findings on PDAF anomalies involving him and the senator. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, therefore, should not have recommended his indictment for plunder, which is a nonbailable offense.
The lawyer asked the high court to nullify the Ombudsman’s joint order issued on March 14, which found probable cause to charge him with one count of plunder and 16 counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
He accused Morales of committing grave abuse of discretion when she issued the joint order and denied his motion to suspend proceedings at the Ombudsman’s field investigation office and the National Bureau of Investigation without allegedly even reading it.
Cambe alleged that the Ombudsman did not read his motion and, furthermore, tackled and resolved issues that he did not even raised.
The lawyer said the notices of disallowances that Revilla’s office had received from the COA have not yet become final and executory.
He noted that under the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines “any person aggrieved by the decision of an auditor of any government agency in the settlement of an account or claim may within six months appeal in writing to the COA.”
A final and executory order from COA, he said, was needed before the NBI and the Ombudsman could file the complaints. Without such order, the charges “are dismissible for being premature or at the very least the proceedings should be suspended pending finality of the notices of disallowance,” Cambe said.
The lawyer also recounted that the complaint stemmed from the audit findings of the COA, which allegedly revealed that the PDAF of Revilla from 2007 to 2009 amounting to P517 million was released to the Technology Resource Center (TRC), National Livelihood and Development Corp. (NLDC) and National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor)
The three implementing agencies allegedly transferred the PDAF releases to phony nongovernment organizations (NGOs) allegedly set up by suspected PDAF scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
On Sept. 16, 2013, the NBI filed a complaint to the Ombudsman charging Revilla, in alleged conspiracy with Cambe and other individuals, with plunder for supposedly receiving P224 million in commissions from PDAF projects.
On Jan. 14, the petitioner said Revilla’s office received from COA four notices of disallowance involving certain amounts released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to TRC under Special Allotment Release Order (Saro).
On Feb. 14, Revilla’s office again received eight notices of disallowance involving certain amounts released by DBM to NLDC under Saro.
Cambe said he had six months to appeal the disallowance reckoned and he intended to do so since he was not involved in the scam. The lawyer said the filing of the administrative or criminal action against him should happen only if he failed to comply with the COA order of execution with finality.
Revilla has also filed in the Supreme Court a pleading similar to Cambe’s but the high tribunal has yet to act on it.
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