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Ombudsman vows to finish PDAF scam probe by 2017

/ 07:53 PM August 25, 2016
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Thursday said her office would finish its investigation on the lawmakers involved in the pork barrel scam before the end of 2017.

In an interview after the House of Representatives deliberated on its P2.299-billion budget for 2017, Morales said her office is still conducting fact-finding investigation over the 240 lawmakers who were tagged by the Commission on Audit in the alleged misuse of pork barrel fund, or the now defunct Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), using spurious nongovernment organizations.

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READ: COA report on 2007-2009 ‘pork barrel’ release

“Some are undergoing fact-finding, some are undergoing preliminary investigation, some have been filed in court,” Morales said.

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“About 240 congressmen ang namention ng (were mentioned in) audit report. So ang dami dami (There are many of them) but we target to finish all of our investigations by the end of next year,” Morales added.

Morales said her office prioritizes officials accused of misusing heftier amounts of taxpayers’ money.

“We decide which cases should first be investigated. We do it in accordance with the amount. The higher the amount, the higher the priority to investigate these big amounts involved in the PDAF,” Morales said.

Morales denied that her office sanitized the original list of lawmakers involved in the pork barrel scam tagged by the mastermind herself Janet Lim-Napoles.

READ: 20 senators, 100 congressmen named on Napoles’ long list

Asked about President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to revisit the pork barrel cases filed in court, Morales said she opt not to comment because Duterte’s comment was too vague.

Duterte reportedly said: “Wait until we revisit the Napoles case, Secretary or Senator (Leila) De Lima, and I assure you, you will be horrified… It involves corruption and De Lima.”

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Duterte had alleged De Lima was involved in the illegal drug trade at the National Bilibid Prison, an accusation De Lima vehemently denied.

“I don’t know what he means, what revisiting the Napoles case. Hindi natin alam (We don’t know). That’s vague to us. No comment,” Morales said.

Morales said she was not worried Duterte’s call to revisit the case would undermine the pending pork barrel scam cases before the Sandiganbayan.

The anti-graft court is hearing the plunder, graft and malversation cases of former senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and several former representatives for allegedly receiving millions of kickbacks from Napoles in the implementation of ghost PDAF projects.

“We are not worried. Because what we did is what we think is in accordance with the law,” Morales said. RAM

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TAGS: Conchita Carpio-Morales, fact-finding investigation, Janet Lim Napoles, Ombudsman, PDAF, President Rodrigo Duterte, Priority Development Assistance Fund
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