MANILA - The Department of Justice is ready to provide assistance, if sought, to the Ombudsman prosecutors who shall prosecute the "pork barrel" scam cases.
This is in the event that the anti-graft office denies the motions for reconsideration that may be filed by respondent Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, and the rest of those recommended indicted for the multi-billion peso misuse of the lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said the Ombudsman may deputize lawyers to assist in the trial of cases.
"It is within the prerogative and powers of the Ombudsman to also deputize other prosecutors, but always under the general supervision and control of the special panel of prosecutors of the Ombudsman. Pwede DOJ prosecutors... pwedeng private lawyers," De Lima said.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an attached agency of the DOJ and the public complainant in the plunder and other graft cases related to the "pork barrel" scam, will provide all the necessary assistance and support to the Ombudsman prosecutors, she added.
VICTORY OF WHISTLEBLOWERS, NBI INVESTIGATORS
The justice chief is elated with the Ombudsman's finding of probable cause against the individuals that the NBI and private complainant Atty Levito Baligod charged last September.
De Lima said the resolutions are an affirmation of the hardwork put in by the whistleblowers and the NBI Special Task Force (STF) that built the case.
"Of course, this is really a very welcome development -- yung pagsasampa ng kaso for plunder and other charges like malversation and violations of certain provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
"Huwag nating kalimutan yung aming whistleblowers, sina Benhur Luy, huwag nating kalimutan yung hard work ng STF, the Special Task Force of the NBI na sila naman talaga all the way, from day one, ang nagtrabaho sa pagkakalap ng ebidensya including mga documentary evidence and they still continue to do that," De Lima said.
In separate resolutions, the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to indict the three senators, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, and several others for the siphoning of the lawmakers' PDAF to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) linked to Napoles.
The resolutions state that Revilla misused P242 million of his PDAF; Estrada, P183 million; and Enrile, P172 million.
TUASON AND CUNANAN'S FATE
Among those recommended indicted are Ruby Tuazon and Techology Resource Center (TRC) director-general Dennis Cunanan whom the DOJ has accepted into its Witness Protection Program (WPP) because of their "material testimonies" against the senators and the other respondents.
De Lima said the Ombudsman observed the "right process" in first determining the liability of Tuason and Cunanan before ruling on their pleas to turn state witness.
"Yun talaga ang tamang proseso, idetermine na muna (liability) kasi sabi nga kung madetermine nila (Ombudsman investigators) na hindi naman pala liable sina Mrs Tuason at Dennis Cunanan, magiging irrrelevant yung application nila as state witness."
"Pending pa rin (application to turn state witness), that's very clear to us... in other words, wala pang desisyon sa usapin na yan kasi inuna muna yung liability nila," De Lima said.
Should the Ombudsman first rule on the MRs before ruling on Tuason and Cunanan's pleas, and should the cases be filed with the Sandiganbayan and warrants of arrest issued against them, the DOJ will have to come up with a decision on whether to formally urge the anti-graft court to grant the WPP continuing physical custody of Tuason and Cunanan.
All those recommended indicted for the "pork barrel" scam have five days, upon receipt of the Ombudsman resolutions, to file their MRs.