Sandigan justice points out exclusion of ex-budget chief in PDAF case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 29 2018 12:57 PM

MANILA - A Sandiganbayan justice on Wednesday questioned a prosecution witness on the exclusion of former Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya in the graft charge against former Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

Sandiganbayan 5th Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos asked witness Vic Escalante why former Budget and Management Undersecretary Mario Relampagos was included in the charge, but not Andaya.

Lagos was prompted to ask questions about Andaya during the cross-examination of Escalante by Relampagos’ lawyer Atty. Alfredo Cabeza.

Cabeza went through all six Special Allotment Release Orders, documents that are necessary for the release of Priority Development Assistance Fund of lawmakers, which did not show the signature of Relampagos.

“Who signed the SAROs?” Lagos asked.

“Sec. Andaya,” Escalante replied.

Upon further questioning by Lagos, Escalante said Andaya was not included in the charges because he only signed the SAROs “in his official capacity.”

“He signed all SAROs?,” Lagos asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Escalante replied.

Andaya has earlier denied any dealings with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, one of the accused individuals in the multi-billion peso PDAF scam.

Escalante also said that Relampagos was included as an accused in the PDAF scam because he was mentioned by Benhur Luy and the other whistleblowers in their testimonies.

Relampagos has been declared “fugitive from justice” by the Sandiganbayan 7th Division after he fled to the United States and decided not to return to he Philippines to face his numerous PDAF cases.

Relampagos has told the court, through a written manifestation made by his lawyers, that he can no longer bear the “extreme injustice” he and his family is suffering from because of the PDAF scam.