Palace waits for Sandigan action vs budget usec

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 20 2014 04:48 PM | Updated as of Jun 21 2014 08:49 AM

MANILA - Malacanang said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will wait for the Sandiganbayan to be the one to suspend Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos over the pork barrel scam.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Relampagos will post bail but added that the budget department will wait if Relampagos will be placed under preventive suspension.

She said if a suspension order is given, then the Department of Budget and Management will comply.

On Thursday, Budget Secretary Butch Abad said Relampagos' powers in the agency have been clipped.

Abad ruled out suspending or putting Relampagos on leave, saying the DBM will first wait for the court's decision on Relampagos' petition for judicial determination of probable cause.

He said Relampagos' responsibilities have been limited.

"We have already limited his responsibilities. He is no longer in charge of any function related to those for which charges were filed against him," Abad said.

The budget official said Relampagos is now engaged mainly in monitoring and evaluation work. He said the official has nothing to do with fund releases now.

"None at all since last year pa," he said.

Abad 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 Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas, former employees of 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 (SARO) last year. SAROs trigger the release of government funds from state coffers.

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