Palace says hands-off on Ombudsman's pork scam probe

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2014 05:01 PM | Updated as of Mar 22 2014 01:01 AM

MANILA - Malacañang dispelled notions that the pork barrel scam cases will be filed by the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan to coincide with the 2016 election.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said cases filed by the Department of Justice before the Ombudsman are still subject to evaluation and are not automatically filed before the anti-graft court.

"Doon talaga nangyayari iyong preliminary investigation. Doon nagsu-submit ang mga respondents ng kanilang mga counter-affidavits. So it took some time and considering the documents involved and the witnesses involved, it will take them some time," he said.

At least 38 people, including three opposition senators, are facing plunder, bribery and malversation charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for the alleged misuse of lawmaker's priority development assistance funds.

Two of those charged - Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla - are reportedly planning to run for higher office in the 2016 polls.

Estrada is reportedly being groomed to become the running-mate of Vice-President Jejomar Binay when the latter runs for President while Revilla is reportedly planning his own presidential bid.

Lacierda said it would be unfair for Malacañang to comment on the Ombudsman investigation since the latter is an independent body.

He said any rush in the filing of the cases might be seen as railroading the complaints.

"Hindi porke sinampahan ng complaints sa Ombudsman, ura-urada sasampahan kaagad ng Ombudsman sa Sandiganbayan. Pag-aaralan pa. This shows the independence and the integrity of the Office of the Ombudsman. I cannot speak for the Ombudsman. We would rather let the Office of the Ombudsman speak. Kasi kung may sasabihin ako o hindi baka sabihin ninyo alam ko, I really don't know the proceedings before the Ombudsman. So kung sakaling magsalita si Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, e di mas mabuti. But since she has chosen not to disclose the stages of the investigation, we will just have to wait," he said.