MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) will undertake a fresh investigation into the multi-billion peso "pork barrel" scam as it expected new leads from alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II announced Thursday.
In a press conference, Aguirre said the DOJ would form a new task force to probe the scam, adding that the department will not adopt findings of the panel formed by former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, under whose time the scam was bared.
De Lima, now detained on drug charges she has repeatedly denied, is among the Duterte administration's staunchest critics.
"We'll not be adopting the findings, if any, [of the] De Lima-constituted panel," he said, vowing that there would be no "selective justice" in the new probe.
Critics of the Aquino administration, under whose time Napoles and several lawmakers were indicted for the scam, previously cited how the DOJ investigation had purportedly left out allies. Past administration officials have also denied such claims.
Aguirre said the DOJ was already in talks with the camp of Janet Lim Napoles, who expressed willingness to name more officials involved in the scam, through which lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) were diverted to bogus non-government organizations.
The DOJ is studying the possibility of turning Napoles into a state witness in cases related to the fund diversion anomaly.
He said the camp of Napoles, currently under trial for the scam, has requested her transfer to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) due to death threats she has allegedly been receiving while in the custody of the Bureau of Corrections.
Napoles was recently acquitted on appeal in the case stemming from the alleged detention of her relative Benhur Luy, whistleblower in the P10-billion scam.
The justice chief said Napoles has yet to submit an affidavit, but that he believes she would reveal more personalities involved in the scam once the death threats are gone.
He said he would talk to NBI officials if they accommodate Napoles' request.
"Basta pag nag-investigate tayo and one appears to be guilty, then kasama siya sa fa-file-an ng kaso kahit ano ang political party," he added.
As to the credibility of Napoles which has been questioned due to her inconsistent statements earlier, Aguirre said: "We will know Napoles' credibility once she testifies."
He vowed that the new pork barrel probe would not be limited to non-government organizations (NGO) associated with Napoles.
"'Pag meron tayong evidence, sisisirin natin 'yan," he said.
Meanwhile, Aguirre said they would also be investigating the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) based on information from Greco Belgica, among petitioners who sought to invalidate the Aquino administration's economic stimulus program.
He said he will not coordinate with the Office of the Ombudsman about the cases they will reopen.
The Supreme Court had in July 2014 invalidated provisions of DAP, which allowed the cross-border transfer of state agency savings to projects not approved under the General Appropriations Act. In response to government's appeal, the High Court affirmed the ruling in February 2015.