Why raps vs 3rd batch of solons taking time
MANILA, Philippines–Nearly three months after submitting her affidavit on the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, suspected mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles’ list of lawmakers who got kickbacks is still being studied by the National Bureau of Investigation, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Wednesday.
As for the filing of a complaint against a third group of suspected beneficiaries of PDAF kickbacks, De Lima said the complaint was “under review.” She declined to disclose how many former and current lawmakers would be sued.
“For the third batch, the results of the NBI probe are already there. They’re just under review. We’re just having a few [transactions] double-checked. We’re double-checking the bases of the conclusions that the concerned lawmakers allegedly received kickbacks,” she said.
Asked if the investigators were having difficulty double-checking, De Lima explained that there were transactions in the third batch that were coursed through agents.
De Lima, who met the NBI team to get an update from the investigators, said they had obtained all special allotment release orders (Saros) pertaining to the PDAF-funded projects proposed by former and current congressmen and senators whom Napoles identified in her affidavit.
“The vetting is still ongoing. We have obtained all the Saros and we’re still evaluating. But these are just Saros, mind you. It doesn’t confirm yet or it’s not yet proof that they (lawmakers) really dealt with Napoles. These are proofs that those lawmakers really have PDAF, but as to whether the funds went to the Napoles nongovernment organizations, we’re still verifying,” De Lima said.
The rest for verification
The Department of Justice chief added that the team was still continuing to get “more details” from the implementing agencies, or the government bodies that contracted the Napoles NGOs to implement the projects.
“This is really such a gigantic task because [the transactions took place] in different years. Some took place long ago, others are recent. Except for the years 2007 to 2009, where all transactions are already clear, the rest are for verification,” she said.
De Lima recounted that she browsed through a “matrix” provided by the NBI team that contained the Saros, the projects and the dates.
According to her, the NBI team was also encountering difficulties in verifying PDAF-funded projects of local government units.
“Those are difficult to confirm, but we’re going to coordinate with the Commission on Audit to see if they have audit reports or findings about the funds that went to the LGUs (local government units),” she said.
Dealing with agents
“It’s not easy to double-check things like that, especially if they were coursed through agents. Some of those in the third batch dealt with Mrs. Napoles through alleged agents. So we’re trying to double-check if there was really a receipt of kickbacks by the concerned lawmakers, directly or indirectly. Now, even if they got kickbacks through agents, which is possible, it doesn’t mean that it’s not true they got kickbacks,” she said.
“We just want to make sure. Our guiding post here is that when we transmit our complaint to the Ombudsman, we have to make sure the results of the Ombudsman’s own verification would confirm or affirm our findings. [This is to make sure] that the entire process won’t get diluted,” she added.
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