NBI probe into pork barrel scam backed by Palace
MANILA, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation’s inquiry into the P10-billion “mother of all scams” involving the pork barrel of three senators and 11 House members has the backing of Malacañang.
A Palace spokesperson said the bureau, which is attached to the Department of Justice, is just pursuing President Benigno Aquino’s marching order to his Cabinet.
“Of course, it is part of the mandate of the NBI to investigate any allegation of wrongdoing,” said Palace spokesperson Abigail Valte at a news briefing. “Let’s bear in mind that when the President assumed office in June 2010, that’s one of the marching orders to members of the Cabinet to look into (and) make an inventory of projects within their departments and agencies, and pursue the necessary action.”
“So suffice it to say that our Cabinet secretaries are, of course, on guard for things like this,” Valte added.
She said she expected the NBI “to have a lot on its hands” since the investigation covers a 10-year period.
The Aquino administration admitted having discovered “landmines” in the government, which was left allegedly almost bankrupt by the Arroyo presidency.
Asked whether the Cabinet, especially the public works secretary, had discovered such irregularities since 2010, Valte said: “I will have to check. In fact, regarding the DPWH (officials)… they have reviewed projects that led to decreased cost (of projects) compared to the ones, or the costing, that they found when the secretary assumed office.”
She said she wasn’t sure if these overpriced projects undertaken by the past administration were “similar allegations that are being investigated by the NBI… on these ghost projects apparently connected to the Priority Development Assistance Funds of some legislators.”
Valte, however, declined to comment on allegations that the government was defrauded of some P10 billion over the past 10 years by a syndicate allegedly led by Janet Lim Napoles, who has been identified as the alleged brains behind the racket.
She runs the company JLN with her brother, Reynald “Jojo” Lim.
“I understand that several persons have submitted affidavits to the NBI (and) as such the investigation will already start. Not being privy to the contents of the affidavits, we will withhold any comment until such time that the NBI releases its findings,” she said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.