DBM clips powers of usec tagged in pork scam

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 19 2014 03:13 PM | Updated as of Jun 19 2014 11:13 PM

MANILA - The powers of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario Relampagos on the agency have been clipped, Budget Secretary Butch Abad said on Thursday.

However, Abad ruled out suspending or putting Relampagos on leave for now.

He explained that Relampagos had petitioned with the Sandiganbayan for judicial determination of probable cause.

"We're awaiting decision of Sandiganbayan," he said.

For now, Relampagos' responsibilities have been limited. "He is no longer in charge of any function related to those for which charges were filed against him," Abad said.

The DBM chief said Relampagos is currently engaged mainly in monitoring and evaluation work, adding that the anti-graft court's ruling on his petition should be out soon.

Abad said Relampagos has nothing to do with fund releases now. "None at all, since last year pa."

He said Relampagos' name appears in the charge sheet but isn't mentioned in the complaint at all.

Relampagos and three of his staff, named only as Malou, Leah and Lalaine, have been included in the list of lawmakers and individuals being prosecuted for the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Relampagos and his three staff were named by whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas, former employees of alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, in their sworn affidavits as contact persons of the detained businesswoman.

Separately, Relampagos' office was also investigated for the release of fake special allotment release orders (SAROs) last year. The SAROs trigger the release of government funds from state coffers.

Abad himself is linked to the scam, though he has yet to be indicted for any charge.