SC affirms graft charges vs gov't officials in 'pork' scam

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2016 10:10 PM

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) affirmed the Sandiganbayan's finding of probable cause against former budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and former Technology Resource Center Director-General Antonio Ortiz for graft charges in connection with the "pork barrel" scam.

During its en banc session on Tuesday, the high court dismissed Relampagos and Ortiz's separate petitions, which were subsequently consolidated, that sought to put a stop to their indictment and trial involving the cases against former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

The cases against Enrile were in connection with the alleged misuse of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) allocations. 

The high court affirmed the anti-graft court's resolutions, dated September 2, 2014 and November 14, 2014, which had upheld petitioners' indictment by the Office of the Ombudsman. 

"The [SC] agreed with the Sandiganbayan and held that the Sandiganbayan did not commit grave abuse of discretion; nor did it commit error when it found probable cause against petitioners," the SC said. 

The Ombudsman's cases against Enrile accused him of having pocketed P172.8 million in kickbacks and commissions from alleged scam architect Janet Lim Napoles for allocating portions of his PDAF to alleged bogus NGOs identified with the businesswoman. 

Napoles is detained due to several cases pending before the Sandiganbayan involving the multi-billion peso scam, and in light of her conviction in April 2015 for the alleged serious illegal detention of her aide and primary scam whistleblower, Benhur Luy; the SC had, meantime, granted Enrile's plea for bail on August 18, 2015.