De Lima: DOJ open to more pork scam whistleblowers

by Ria de Fiesta,

Posted at Feb 07 2014 12:44 AM | Updated as of Feb 07 2014 08:44 AM

MANILA -- Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday said she is still open to having more whistleblowers and state witnesses to further strengthen the cases against those implicated in the pork barrel scam.

"The case is still under preliminary investigation, and case build-up does not stop even if we have filed complaints for preliminary investigation," De Lima told ANC's Prime Time on Thursday.

"In fact, the proper stance is that even it it's on trial already, investigators still continue to strengthen evidence in order to secure a conviction," she added.

Asked of the DOJ is still waiting for something "explosive" for them to finally file a case, De Lima said "investigators are now undertaking certain moves towards that end."

"The thrust, the objective is to really strengthen evidence so that when it reaches the proper court, in this case the Sandiganbayan, we really have an airtight case," she said.

"When the Ombudsman ultimately files the information, then we can expect the issuance of a warrant of arrest. And the only way to ensure that when it is filed, is that these are really strong cases," De Lima stated.

Meanwhile, De Lima said the the first of two batches of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)-Janet Lim Napoles scam cases is already before the Office of the Ombudsman.

"Some of them are under fact-finding, and verification of the field investigation office of the Office of the Ombudsman. While some, especially the 1st batch that include the three senators, are now undergoing preliminary investigation," De Lima said.

As has been reported already, De Lima said the three senators -- Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla -- have submitted their respective-counter affidavits.

"Now the NBI, as co-complainants, is just waiting for other respondents to file their counter-affidavits so that the NBI can file its own reply to those affidavits," she said.

Asked about the alleged involvement of former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr., De Lima said she is waiting for the sworn statement from whistleblowers, especially Benhur Luy.

"...they did confirm that Revilla Sr had also some dealings with Napoles and using also bogus NGOs," she said.

"If they do submit additional affidavit or supplemental affidavit, then I will direct a team of NBI to look into that," she said.

De Lima, however, said that although the physical state of the ailing Revilla Sr. might complicate the filing of charges, it is still the justice department's responsibility to investigate wrongdoings.

De Lima said they are supposed to discharge their mandate without fear, favor or any other consideration.

"But again it all boils down to if we have enough evidence and [whether] we'll be able to build a case against anyone else," she said.

"Anything is possible, because this is really a very important case, one of the biggest cases that we have seen in history of law enforcement and in our anti-corruption efforts," De Lima said.