Ombudsman OKs pork scam raps vs. Napoles, 3 senators
MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman has found merit in the plunder case filed by the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim–Napoles, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., and others linked to the alleged misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund, a source privy to the investigation said.
“The investigating team has found merit in the plunder charge and the respondents will be asked to submit their counter-affidavits,” the source told the Inquirer on the condition that he would not be named for lack of authority to speak to media.
When asked if this meant charges would soon be filed in the Sandiganbayan, he said: “If there was no merit in the charges of the NBI, there would be no need for the Ombudsman to ask the respondents to submit their explanations through a counter-affidavit; the case would have been immediately discarded.”
Another source from the Ombudsman said that subpoenas would be issued to all the 38 respondents starting Tuesday.
“The docketing of the plunder cases started yesterday and subpoenas for the respondents will be sent out immediately,” the source said.
Docketing, the source explained, is the process of assigning case numbers to the respondents which also means that the “respondents officially now have criminal and administrative cases pending in the Ombudsman.”
The source explained that cases where high-ranking officials are involved are classified as “special cases and given top priority.”
The source also said that Benhur Luy and seven other former employees of Napoles who had turned whistle-blowers had already faced the Ombudsman’s own fact-finding investigators to affirm the affidavits they submitted earlier that detailed the alleged scam.