DOJ double checking 'pork' raps vs TESDA chief

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 31 2014 04:00 AM | Updated as of Jul 31 2014 12:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) needs more time to conclude its investigation on allegations implicating Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director-general Joel Villanueva in the pork barrel fund anomaly.

Speaking to reporters, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday DOJ prosecutors and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents would still have to review and double-check their initial findings on charges against Villanueva and others in the third batch of cases related to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

“It’s not easy to double check things like that, especially if (transactions) were done only through agents,” she said.

“We are trying to double check if there was really a receipt of kickbacks by the concerned lawmakers directly or indirectly.”

De Lima said investigators wanted to make sure that strong cases would be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman.

“We don’t want to dilute this entire process,” she said.

The NBI was set to file the third batch of PDAF cases in the third week of June, De Lima said.

The fact-finding probe started as early as last year when the NBI got documents and records from the whistle-blowers.

However, De Lima decided to defer the filing due to a finding that Villanueva’s signatures in documents gathered were forged.

It was a “very important factor” in the fact-finding probe, she added.

De Lima said the forgery of signatures in letter-referrals and memoranda of agreement is another matter, compared to the admission of Benhur Luy and other whistle-blowers about forging signatures in liquidation documents of bogus non-government organizations.

She would not specify which documents bear the alleged forged signatures of Villanueva.

De Lima said “most” of the documents examined by the NBI had this result.

The review of the next batch of cases in which Villanueva is among the subjects would not take long, she added.

In a four-page report dated March 31, the NBI said Villanueva’s signatures in the documents did not match with those in the custody of the Commission on Audit (COA).