Honasan, Villanueva, 7 others face raps over pork barrel scam
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Friday filed the third batch of pork barrel scam cases which involved allies of President Benigno Aquino III.
Included in the malversation, bribery and graft complaints are Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan III, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, and Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (Tesda) Secretary Joel Villanueva, a member of Aquino’s Cabinet.
Villanueva is a member of the administration coalition and is eyed to run as senator for Aquino’s liberal party in 2016. He is the son of Jesus is Lord founder Bro. Eddie Villanueva.
Villanueva was appointed Tesda Director General with a Cabinet rank by President Aquino. He served as Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) Representative from the 2001 to 2010.
Honasan ran and won the Senate seat as an independent allied with the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay. Honasan is now UNA vice president.
Rodriguez headed the House of Representatives ad hoc Bangsamoro committee and sponsored the government landmark legislation on the proposed Bangsamoro basic law in Congress.
Rodriguez is an administration ally in Congress.
Others in the complaint are La Union Representative Victor Ortega, Manila Representative Amado Bagatsing, incumbent Abono Representative and former Pangasinan Representative Conrado Estrella III, former Abono Representative Robert Raymund Estrella, former La Union Representative Manuel Ortega, and former Zamboanga Representative Isidoro Real Jr.
“The above lawmakers used their PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) in illegal transactions with Janet Lim Napoles’ NGOs to enable themselves to profit from the simulated disbursements and utilization of their PDAF,” the complaint stated.
The lawmakers, according to the complaint allegedly received 40 to 60 percent of the total amount used by Napoles’ NGOs.
“This is the lawmaker’s share/commission/kickback in the misuse and conversion of his PDAF through the implementation of ghost projects by the Napoles NGOs,” the executive summary of the complaint stated.
Records of the kickbacks allegedly received by the lawmakers directly or through their representative were stated in the records of whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Based on the complaint, the lawmakers received the following kickbacks:
Honasan – P1.750-million
Bagatsing – P600,000
Estrella III – P45.030-million
Estrella – P22.675-million
Manuel Ortega – P 14.350-million
Victor Francisco Ortega – P9.587- million
Real – P3.250- million
Rodriguez – P2.099-million
Villanueva – P2.330- million
“The utilization of almost 100 percent of the PDAF was for the purpose of giving everyone involved his share of the pie. Only a measly amount of the PDAF was actually used for the legitimate intended purpose of supplying knapsack sprayers, vegetable seeds, livelihood materials, liquid fertilizers and training to identified beneficiaries,” the Executive Summary further stated.
Accused pork barrel scam mastermind Napoles is serving life sentence after losing the serious illegal detention case filed against her by Benhur Luy, formerly her trusted finance officer who blew the lid off the alleged scheme of pilfering lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
She also faces multiple plunder, graft and malversation cases before the Sandiganbayan.
Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., as well as former representatives Rizalina Seachon Lanete and Edgar Valdez have been charged with plunder and detained to face hearings.
Meanwhile, facing charges for malversation over the scam are former Cagayan de Oro representative Constantino Jaraula, former Benguet representative Samuel Dangwa, and former Agusan Del Sur representative Rodolfo Plaza.
Final batch of cases
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said this will be the last batch of cases that will be filed in connection with the PDAF.
“This is really the third and final batch in so far as the Napoles NGOS are concerned for 2007 to 2009 COA (Commission on Audit) special audit report,” de Lima said.
The filing of the third batch has been delayed several times since last year.
Early this year, de Lima said the third batch is no longer a priority of her office. But after getting flak from various sectors, she took back her words and said the case will be filed soon.
De Lima also denied that the reason for the one year delay of filing the case was because of the administration allies subject of the investigation.
“That is not true kasi sa second batch meron din dun. So, this one ay meron din. But that is not the reason na may nadelay. The reason for the delay is the issue of the genuineness of signatures. We wanted to address that issue para malinaw,” de Lima added.
(That is not true because Aquino allies were also included in the second batch. This batch also charged some Aquino allies. But that is not the reason for the delay. The reason for the delay is the issue of the genuineness of signatures. We wanted to address that issue so it is clearer.)
De Lima added that like in the first and second batches of complaints they filed with the Office of the Ombudsman, it will still be subject to a fact-finding probe to determine if there is a need to undergo preliminary investigation where all the 40 respondents including the 9 lawmakers will be required to answer the allegations.
“Now may I also clarify that just like the first and second batches, this will be the call of the Ombudsman whether or not i-go ang mga kaso na ‘yan. In other words, hindi naman ito dederetso sa preliminary investigation. Dumadaan pa ito sa Field Investigation Office just like the first and second batches,” de Lima explained.
(Nowmay I also clarify that just like the first and second batches, this will be the call of the ombudsman whether to proceed with the cases or not. In other words, the cases will not immediately proceed to preliminary investigation. It will still have to go through the Field Investigation Office just like the first and second batches. IDL
(Editor’s note: The article was updated to state that Representative Conrado Estrella III is the incumbent Abono congressman, as well as former Pangasinan congressman. KS)
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