Ombudsman seeks DOJ assistance in pork scam trials

Posted at 07/25/14 3:42 PM

De Lima favorably grants request

MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman has requested a justice department official, a state prosecutor, and a state counsel to participate in the prosecution of plunder and graft cases before the Sandiganbayan against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, Janet Lim Napoles, and several others in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, in a letter to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, dated July 10, requested that Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, Assistant State Prosecutor Hazel Decena-Valdez, and State Counsel Aaron Jarveen Ho be "partially detailed" to the anti-graft office.

"In light of the ongoing trial of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam cases, may we request that the following lawyers (Justiniano, Valdez, Ho) of the Department of Justice be partially detailed to the Office of the Ombudsman."

"The experience of these lawyers, who have extensive trial experience will be invaluable to the successful prosecution of these cases. During the effectivity of their partial detail, they will be deputized, pursuant to Section 31 of Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989), as prosecutors of the Offce of the Ombudsman with authority to appear before the Sandiganbayan as collaborating counsels of the Special Panel of Prosecutors and co-sign pleadings on behalf of the People of the Philippines," the letter read.

Four days later, on July 14, De Lima granted the request via Department Order No. 486.

"In the interest of service, pursuant to the provisions of existing laws and to the request of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales in her 10 July 2014 letter, [Justiniano, Valdez, and Ho] are hereby partially detailed to the Office of the Ombudsman," the order read.

De Lima directed all cases under petitions for review before Justiniano's office to be reassigned to Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, while Valdez and Ho shall be excused from some of their current assignments.

Ironically, Justiniano and Valdez were on opposite sides of the fence in the trial of the controversial Subic rape case involving US serviceman Daniel Smith: Justiniano was Smith's lawyer, while Valdez was one of the prosecutors on behalf of complainant "Nicole."