De Lima proposes joint NBI, Ombudsman probe on pork scam
MANILA -- Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has called on a joint National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Office of the Ombudsman probe on the pork barrel scam following a Commission on Audit (COA) report that described a larger-scale web of deceit.
De Lima told reporters over the weekend that she wants a more expansive probe on the scandal, which has been linked to around 200 lawmakers.
"With the release of such COA report, NBI's probe will now be full blown. Having said that, NBI remains open to a joint probe with both Ombudsman and COA, or at least a parallel, coordinated probe with both offices, which anyway is being undertaken now de facto," de Lima said in a text message.
COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan said on Friday that 10 NGOs with links to Janet Napoles received some P2.157 billion in pork barrel between 2007 and 2009, or during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
De Lima said the findings showed a “much wider web of anomalies” involving the release of lawmakers’ pork barrel.
She said the COA report will be used as a “major reference for the needed evidentiary support to buttress and complete NBI's ongoing probe. Documents in COA's possession -- lawmakers' letters designating implementing agencies and NGOs, requests for release of funds and SAROs -- will corroborate and strengthen the whistleblowers' statements and NBI's own documentary evidence.”
The current NBI fact-finding process is focusing on Napoles, who has turned fugitive after evading an arrest warrant for serious illegal detention of her assistant Benhur Luy, who has tagged Napoles to the pork barrel scam.
Napoles’ bank accounts have already been frozen. That and her brother Reynald Lim’s passports have also been cancelled.
Still, authorities have yet to track down the accused after four days of a nationwide search, which also called for a citizen’s arrest.
"Those who will be found coddling Janet Napoles and Reynald Lim will also face the long arms of justice. They will face possible obstruction of justice charges," de Lima warned.
De Lima said, however, they have not received information if politicians have been hiding Napoles and her brother.