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74 lawmakers in pork scam not charged, says Baligod

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74 lawmakers in pork scam not charged, says Baligod

/ 02:03 AM September 04, 2015
Lawyer Levito Baligod  INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Lawyer Levito Baligod INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Lawyer Levito Baligod on Thursday said 74 other lawmakers have yet to be charged with diverting their allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) during the Arroyo administration.

Baligod said these lawmakers were lucky because the Commission on Audit (COA) findings against them were not enough for filing and building a case against them and was made more difficult with the abolition of the government agencies that serve as conduits for the transfer of their pork barrel funds to fake NGOs.

At the Usaping Balita News Forum in Quezon City, Baligod said, “Most probably, the evidence against these (former and incumbent lawmakers) have been buried together with the closure of the agencies.”

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Closed agencies

President Aquino shuttered three agencies involved in the pork barrel scam based on the COA report released in 2013—Philippine Forest Corp. (PFC), ZNAC Rubber Estate (ZREC) and National Agri-Business Corp. (Nabcor).

Baligod filed in the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday a malversation case against 20 former and current lawmakers who dealt with Nabcor.

Baligod said that the evidence against the lawmakers was bolstered by the testimony of four whistle-blowers.

In the same forum, 1BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello III suggested that a “truth commission” be formed to handle the pursuit of cases against the 74 lawmakers that have yet to be charged in the pork barrel scam.

Bello also suggested that the commission be empowered to go after alleged anomalies during the Aquino administration, such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program and “congressional insertion” to favored allies.

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said the Office of the Ombudsman should not stop and continue pursuing its case against the 74 lawmakers.

“Corruption has such long and insidious tentacles, people should be held accountable or else these corrupt officials will run for office again and plunder the national coffers again and again,” Ilagan said.

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‘Common knowledge’

She said she was not surprised that Baligod included North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco among the pork operators charged in the new PDAF case.

Ilagan said that it was “common knowledge” in Mindanao that Catamco had worked as an “operator” of pork funds even before she became a lawmaker in 2010.

“The pork scam had not yet been exposed at that time that’s why nobody was reacting. Her claim that she’s close to the powers that be, like Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, should not be a hindrance in filing appropriate cases against her,” Ilagan said.

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TAGS: 74 lawmakers, Levito Baligod, Luz Ilagan, PDAF, pork scam
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