WHAT WENT BEFORE: De Lima opens probe of pork barrel scam
MANILA, Philippines — In July 2013, in the wake of the pork barrel controversy, then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima opened an investigation into a racket that channeled Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations of lawmakers into fictitious projects.
De Lima announced that the National Bureau of Investigation was building a case against businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of what would later become known as the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
In September 2013, charges of plunder, malversation, bribery, and graft and corruption were filed in the Office of the Ombudsman against Napoles, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada and 34 other people.
According to the NBI complaint, the three senators received a total of P581 million in kickbacks for allowing Napoles to use their pork barrel allocations to finance nonexistent projects.
In June 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman indicted Revilla, Enrile and Estrada for plunder and multiple counts of graft.
Revilla was charged with plunder for allegedly amassing P224.5 million in kickbacks, the biggest among the three senators.
He was also charged with 16 counts of graft in connection with the diversion of P517 million in pork barrel funds.
Revilla’s case was the first to go on trial, which began in June 2017.
On Dec. 7, 2018, the Sandiganbayan acquitted Revilla of plunder but convicted his legislative officer, Richard Cambe, and Napoles, saying the two had pocketed P124.5 million from his pork barrel funds. Revilla still faces trial on the 16 graft charges. —Inquirer Research
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