Plunder complaint filed vs Bongbong

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2016 05:55 PM | Updated as of Apr 06 2016 11:11 PM

Bongbong says it's an old issue

MANILA - A youth group marched to the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday to file a plunder complaint against vice-presidential aspirant Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. over his alleged multi-million peso kickback from the pork barrel scam.

This is the first plunder complaint filed against a member of the Marcos family. The pending cases of the Marcoses on alleged ill-gotten wealth before the Sandiganbayan are for reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting, and damages.

Unlike the current pending cases, the crime of plunder passed after martial law is a non-bailable offense. It involves ill-gotten wealth amounting to at least P50 million, acquired by a government employee or official through conspiracy with other individuals. There also has to be a combination or series of acts, not just one.

The group iBalik ang Bilyones ng Mamamayan (iBBM) accused Marcos of stealing millions of public funds from his Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) through the fake non-government organizations allegedly run by Janet Lim Napoles.

The iBBM based their complaint on whistleblower Benhur Luy's list of lawmakers involved in the multi-billion scam, audit reports, Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) and transcripts of statements made during the Senate investigations.

The complaint states that a total of P205 million was given to bogus organizations in 2011 and 2012. This includes P15 million to Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI), P10 million to Health Education Assistance Resettlement Training Services (HEARTS), P30 million to Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation Inc. (CARED), P30 million to People's Organization for Progress and Development Foundation Inc. (POPDFI), P20 million to Kaupdanan para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI), and P100 million to National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC).

The funds were supposedly allotted for organic farming of high-value crops in several towns in Quezon, Pangasinan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan provinces.

The complaint cites Commission on Audit (COA) findings which show that the chosen organizations for the project were non-existent, could not be located, or were incapable of handling such government projects.

Attached in the complaint are the SAROs authorizing the release of the funds from Marcos' PDAF.

The complaint also cites Napoles' statement before the Senate that Catherine Mae "Maya" Santos, a former consultant in Marcos' office, offered to use the senator's project in exchange for a 50%-commission.

While the investigating agency has yet to finish the investigation on the pork barrel scam, iBBM wants to speed up the probe against Marcos, who is currently a front runner in the vice- presidential race.

The group is alarmed by Marcos' increasing popularity as reflected in recent surveys where he is statistically tied with erstwhile front runner Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero.

READ: EDSA fatigue: Why Bongbong Marcos is suddenly popular

The group accused Marcos of continuing his father, former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos' "legacy" of stealing from the government.

"Hindi na tayo makakapaghintay doon sa mga batches ng maifa-file na kaso lalo nga't palapit na yung eleksyon. Nakikita natin tumataas si Bongbong Marcos. Habang papalapit si Bongbong sa Malacañang, siguraduhin natin na panagutin siya sa ninakaw niyang pera," said Rafaela David, spokesperson of iBBM.

"Maraming nagsasabi na hindi naman nagnakaw si Bongbong Marcos, ang nagnakaw ang kanyang ama. The truth of the matter is, noong martial law pa lang, may mga koneksyon na pati si Bongbong Marcos ay nagnakaw noong bata pa siya at hanggang ngayon," David added.

The iBBM called on Marcos to return the people's money he allegedly stole. One of the senator's rivals, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, has also asked Marcos to return the billions worth of money and assets his family allegedly stole from government coffers during his father's reign.

"Hindi naman para sa akin yun, hindi naman para sa amin na mga katunggali sa pulitika. Para iyon sa mga biktima ng human rights violations so kailangan talagang isauli," she said.

Marcos, for his part, shrugged off the complaint, saying this was an old issue that is just being revived by his rivals.

Marcos added that he already expected criticisms after he topped the recent vice-presidential preference surveys.