Palace: No probative value in Benhur deleted files

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 30 2014 05:19 PM | Updated as of May 31 2014 01:19 AM

MANILA - A Palace official on Friday said he does not see any "probative value" in the deleted files of pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy that have names corresponding to certain government officials.

This, as Malacanang expects cases of the first batch of pork barrel scam suspects will be filed soon.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma was asked for comment on reports that the NBI found that some files in Luy's hard drive were deleted. Some of the deleted filed were reportedly named "Marcos", "Sotto" and "Ochoa."

Coloma said the files purportedly pertain to unsigned draft letters addressed to certain lawmakers and to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

"Hence, this could hardly be considered as having any probative value," he said.

The deleted files caught the attention of some since it corresponds to the names of Senators Bongbong Marcos and Tito Sotto and Secretary Ochoa.

Ochoa has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Coloma stood firm on President Aquino's position requiring proof of wrongdoing against anyone of his Cabinet members.

"We reiterate our position that in accordance with the guidance of the President, the government remains committed in pursuing an evidence-based inquiry and that any legal action that will be taken should be based on firm and substantiated proof, which can pass judicial inquiry and scrutiny.

"As to members of the Cabinet, we reiterate that mere allegations do not affect the presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions and there is a need to recognize their right to presumption of innocence," he said.

Coloma reminded the public to be vigilant and not allow themselves to be misled by some of the allegations in the pork barrel scam.

He said he expects cases of the first batch of pork barrel scam suspects to be filed before the Sandiganbayan soon.

Last April, the Office of the Ombudsman issued a resolution finding probable cause in the filing of plunder and graft charges against alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Napoles and opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada.

The Ombudsman is now tackling the motions for reconsideration filed by the three senators.

Coloma said the Ombudsman has 60 days to study the motions and make a ruling.

"Yung 60 days po papatak na 'yan sa susunod na linggo kaya kung susundan po natin ‘yung takbo ng proseso ng batas, ang susunod na hakbang ay makakarinig na po siguro tayo ng anunsiyo o pagpapahayag mula sa Office of the Ombudsman hinggil doon sa aksyon nila patungkol sa mga motions for reconsideration," he said.

"At kapag nagpasya sila na huwag pakinggan o huwag tanggapin ‘yung mga bagong katwiran na inihain sa kanila, ang lohikal na susunod na hakbang doon ay ‘yung paghaharap na ng information sa Sandiganbayan."

Coloma gave assurances that the justice department is scrutinizing the information presented so far very well. He said the purpose of the investigation is to ensure that cases filed before the courts will meet the standards of judicial proof.

President Aquino previously warned that the different lists of alleged pork barrel scam beneficiaries may be an attempt to sabotage the investigation.

MILLION PEOPLE MARCH

Coloma has also urged organizers of the Million People March to keep their anti-pork barrel scam rally on June 12 peaceful.

The spokesman did not say if the planned protest may affect the government’s usual Independence day activities. He did say that President Aquino will host the traditional vin d-honneur or diplomatic reception in the Palace on that day.

"Pangkaraniwan sa araw na ‘yan ay nagdaraos ng isang Vin D’Honneur para sa diplomatic corps at ang Pangulo ay nandirito sa Malacanang para maging host diyan sa pagkakataong ‘yan. Pangkaraniwang ginaganap ‘yan tuwing Araw ng Kalayaan at sa pag-uumpisa ng bawat bagong taon," he said.

Organizers of last year's Million People March against pork barrel have called for another rally on June 12.

The Supreme Court has already ruled as unconstitutional the lump sum pork barrel allocations for lawmakers.