MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) will press on with its probe into alleged corruption in the military in spite of the suicide of former Armed Forces chief of staff and former defense chief Angelo Reyes.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday (Feb. 8) morning that the probe "is not just about Reyes" thus the need to continue with it.
"We grieve with the [Reyes] family, but we have a higher issue to confront," De Lima said.
The DOJ is still waiting for the "comprehensive, exhaustive affidavit" of military fund controversy whistleblower and former Armed Forces budget officer, Retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa, before it can determine what kind of panel to create -- whether a fact-finding panel or a panel for preliminary investigation.
Asked if she shared the opinion of some lawmakers that the family or heirs of Reyes may still be held liable for the fallen general's alleged pocketing of state funds as alleged by Rabusa, De Lima said: "It depends on the evidence and the facts."
De Lima, meantime, denied knowledge of the alleged "protector" of embattled former military comptroller Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia.
Before his death, Reyes claimed a handful of lawmakers, including Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, knew who this "protector" was and challenged them to reveal the identity of this individual.
The justice chief assured no stone will be left unturned in the DOJ probe.
"It will go as far up, wherever the evidence will lead us and whoever the evidence will lead us to. We have to cease the moment na may ganito na tayong chance. Di naman pwede na isa o dalawa lang ang may alam nyan," De Lima said.
"We have to seize the moment, kung hindi, kailan pa? This is the best time and opportunity na kalkalin ito," De Lima added.
The justice chief also bared there are several feelers from certain persons privy to the alleged corrupt acts, but that all these will be validated.
De Lima will study whether to open the DOJ investigation to live media coverage, but assured that fact-finding and preliminary investigation proceedings at the DOJ have more stringent rules than congressional inquiries which "have more leeway."
De Lima clarified that the DOJ probe are for purposes of prosecution compared to the congressional inquiries which are more of in aid of legislation.