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Ombudsman junks Revilla plea to stop pork scam probe

Posted On 2014 Feb 03
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A Catholic nun is joined by students of St. Scholastica's College as they hold signs and chant slogans to demand the abolition of a misused fund for legislators' pet projects, outside their campus in Manila August 28, 2013. On Monday, tens of thousands Filipinos marched through the centre of Manila and other cities to express indignation at the misuse of "pork barrel" funds under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). (MNS photo)

A Catholic nun is joined by students of St. Scholastica’s College as they hold signs and chant slogans to demand the abolition of a misused fund for legislators’ pet projects, outside their campus in Manila August 28, 2013. On Monday, tens of thousands Filipinos marched through the centre of Manila and other cities to express indignation at the misuse of “pork barrel” funds under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Thursday denied Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jnr’s motion to suspend proceedings in the preliminary investigation being conducted on the P10 billion pork barrel scam.

In a 13-page Joint Order dated January 28, 2014 the special panel of investigators determined that “no prejudicial question exists to warrant the suspension of the preliminary investigation.”

It noted that the civil suit filed by Revilla against the whistle-blowers in the pork barrel scam is an “afterthought and ploy to delay the criminal proceedings, since Revilla already knew about the [priority development assistance funds] documents and the issue of authenticity or genuineness of his signature on the documents as early as 2011 when upon the Commission on Audit’s request for confirmation, he confirmed that the signatures appearing in the PDAF documents belonged to him and (Richard) Cambe, instead of questioning the same.”

Ombudsman Morales also stated that “any further unfounded attempts to suspend or delay the preliminary investigation of the PDAF cases will not be tolerated, as the cases are imbued with paramount public interest.”

She said several respondents have filed various motions for extension of time to file their respective counter-affidavits and other pleadings.

The Ombudsman also denied respondent Richard Cambe’s similar prayer of suspension contained in his Counter-Affidavit dated January 20, 2014.

Revilla earlier urged the Ombudsman to suspend the probe on plunder charges filed against him and 38 others in connection with the scam linked to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

In his motion, Revilla said he had already filed a civil complaint asking the Bacoor City Regional Trial Court to declare as null and void the documents used by the whistle-blowers as basis to charge the senator with plunder.

The Ombudsman Joint Order, however, said the civil case for declaration of nullity of documents, collection of sum of money and damages filed by Revilla on September 13, 2013 (in which Cambe intervened as co-complainant) against Benhur Luy, et al. pending in the Regional Trial Court of Bacoor, Cavite “has no bearing in the outcome of the criminal cases filed with the OMB. “

The Joint Order explained that the issues in the criminal and civil cases are neither similar nor intimately related to one another, considering that “forgery or falsification, which is the gist of [the civil case], is not a necessary element of the [mentioned crimes].”

It said the priority development assistance funds (PDAF) documents “are not the sole or exclusive determinant of the existence of probable cause for plunder, malversation, or violation of the anti-graft law, as there appear to be other pieces of evidence (e.g., sworn statements of other witnesses, business records of companies controlled by Janet Lim Napoles, and reports from the on-site verification conducted by investigators in various provinces where the PDAF-funded projects were implemented).”

In the same Joint Order, Ombudsman Morales dismissed Revilla’s counter-charge for plunder against witnesses Benhur Luy, Merlina Suñas and Marina Sula, since the three have been admitted to the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program.

The counter-charge against Petronilla Balmaceda was, however, referred for further fact-finding investigation.

The Ombudsman said Revilla’s counter-charge against his fellow respondents Dennis Cunanan, Antonio Ortiz, Alan Javellana, Gondelina Amata, Salvador Salacup, Mylene Encarnacion, Nemesio Pablo, Evelyn De Leon, Jocelyn Piorato, John Raymund De Asis and Ronald John Lim was dismissed “because it stems from similar, if not identical, factual allegations as those filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and Field Investigation Office against them who are, in any event, already impleaded.” (MNS)

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