More lawmakers on Napoles pork barrel list left uncharged, says lawyer
The third and final batch of cases in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) was already filed on Friday, but the lawyer of alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles on Saturday said there were more lawmakers on his client’s long list who are yet to be charged.
Bruce Rivera, Napoles’ lawyer for illegal detention case, said their camp has sufficient documentary evidence that would show that a number of current and former lawmakers who supposedly received kickbacks in the P10-million PDAF scam remain unprosecuted.
“She has given a list and based on our affidavit, there were names on the list that were not charged. Of course, I can’t really pinpoint who the names are,” Rivera said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel. “That has always been our contention—that indeed, not everyone was included.”
“Sa totoo lang, lahat naman kasi ng dealings ni Mrs. Napoles may documents na nagba-back up nito eh (The truth is we have documents to back up the dealings of Mrs. Napoles). But we were never given the opportunity to present them kasi (because) she was denied being state witness,” he added.
On Friday, the National Bureau of Investigation filed malversation, bribery, and graft charges against nine incumbent and former lawmakers and 31 others, including Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan III, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, and Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (Tesda) Secretary Joel Villanueva, before the Office of the Ombudsman. Rodriguez and Villanueva are allies of President Benigno Aquino III.
Aside from them, other present and former lawmakers who have been charged over the PDAF scam are detained senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Jinggoy Estrada and former representatives Rizalina Seachon Lanete and Edgar Valdez.
Enrile’s former chief of staff, Jessica Lucille “Gigi” Reyes, is also in jail, while Napoles is detained for the illegal detention of former employee and pork barrel whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Also charged were 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.
Among high-profile names on Napoles’ affidavit that were not included in the “pork” cases include senators Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Lito Lapid, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Cynthia Villar, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, and Budget Secretary Butch Abad.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the third batch of complaints, which has been delayed several times since last year, will be the last batch of cases that will be filed regarding the pork barrel scam.
“This is really the third and final batch insofar as the Napoles NGOS are concerned for 2007 to 2009 COA (Commission on Audit) special audit report.”
But Rivera said he assumes that Napoles was not happy to learn that only a handful of senators and congressmen she named in her affidavit are facing raps.
“She wants all these people to be investigated. I would demise that she was not satisfied,” Rivera said.
Rivera said the timing of the filing of third batch of pork cases was “distressing and frustrating” for a lawyer like him.
“It’s distressing to learn that after a long time, this is just what the government has come up with. Of course if they really wanted change, sana mas madami pa or sana we should go full blast,” he said. “But by the looks of it, well, my personal opinion and not on behalf of Mrs. Napoles or any person for that matter, it’s frustrating on my part as a lawyer [that] justice has not been fully served.”
De Lima previously said the third batch of PDAF cases may not be part of her priorities before stepping out of the justice department, but took her words after being criticized by various sectors.
Asked on the government’s partiality in pursuing pork cases without bias to administration allies, Rivera said he would like to give prosecutors the benefit of the doubt.
“So many people that are notably mentioned by Mrs. Napoles are not even charged. But I cannot say this as a matter of fact kasi hindi ko naman alam (because I do not know) how the DOJ or the Ombudsman has been getting or investigating the people or how they came about with the charges,” he said. IDL
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