DOJ to probe P407-M DOTC scam linked to Napoles

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 01 2014 09:46 AM | Updated as of May 01 2014 05:50 PM

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) will look into the reported scam involving a P407-million project of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in 2002 being linked to suspected pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said government investigators will ask Napoles about this new controversy as part of her tell-all affidavit in the pork barrel scam.

“That new information will be part of our validation process,” De Lima said in an interview at the sidelines of the launch of the electronic subpoena system for criminal cases at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Quezon City yesterday.

De Lima said the National Bureau of Investigation would also check this report with the whistle-blowers led by Benhur Luy.

De Lima said Napoles made no mention of the supposedly anomalous DOTC project during their meeting last week.

Napoles had offered to tell all she knows about the scam involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers.

“What we have is the supposed PDAF list. But that one about DOTC, I don’t know about that. The presumption of the NBI is that these transactions in the list are PDAF-related, unless she would clarify that not everything there is PDAF,” De Lima said.

She said the investigators would clarify this issue with Napoles.

De Lima was referring to reports regarding the supposed approval by two DOTC officials of the P407-million supply contract with Napoles’ trading firm for the purchase of computers and mobile communication equipment that turned out to be “ghost” deliveries.

De Lima confirmed NBI agents again visited Napoles in hospital last Monday for clarificatory questioning. Napoles is recovering from surgery at the Ospital ng Makati.

Inasmuch as probers want to complete the affidavit of Napoles, De Lima said they have to take into account her health and physical condition.

“She can’t talk for two straight hours. The doctors said the operation really affected her speech, that’s why we’re thinking of some other ways of getting her complete statement that could limit the questioning,” De Lima said.

One of the options, she said, is to just let Napoles complete her testimony in writing.

“We can just allow her to provide us the complete affidavit subject to our vetting since it’s based anyway on her personal knowledge anyway. This way, there will also be less suspicion that we are dictating or influencing her in telling her story,” she added.

Wait for assessment

There have been calls for De Lima to make public the list of personalities involved in the pork barrel scam provided by Napoles in her tell-all affidavit.

Malacañang, however, believes there is no need to sensationalize the list.

“It will all depend on the assessment of Secretary De Lima. But let me just say that the battle against graft and corruption is not won by sensationalism. It is waged by an evidence-based investigation, coupled with an independent ombudsman, who will review the case to be filed …and prosecuting it before the Sandiganbayan,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“I think all of us are in agreement that when there is evidence, we should file cases against them. As to the list itself, we will wait for the assessment of Secretary De Lima as to when is the proper time to disclose all these things,” he said.

Lacierda said whatever decision to be taken by De Lima would be reviewed and evaluated again by the Office of Ombudsman.

“Let’s not focus ourselves on what Leila is going to do. Let’s also remember that what Leila will do will again be evaluated by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales,” he said.

“Our fight against graft and corruption does not end with Leila. It will pass through the ombudsman, which will file a case before the Sandiganbayan,” he said.

There had been reports of a list of lawmakers and officials supposedly tagged by Napoles in her affidavit on the pork barrel scam.

Napoles reportedly confirmed Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. were in the list.

The three senators were among those to be indicted, including Napoles, for plunder and multiple counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan for pocketing some P597 million in kickbacks or commissions from their PDAF. – With Aurea Calica, Marvin Sy