Palace: Duterte wants whole truth behind PDAF scam

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2017 04:47 PM

File photo

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte wants the whole truth behind the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, an anomaly bared during the Aquino administration that eventually led to the abolition of discretionary congressional funds. 

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte was bent at completely uncovering the scam, regardless of whether or not those involved were his allies.

“[President Duterte] in fact has publicly said that he wants to revisit it. The President wants the truth to finally come out and hold those involved, regardless of political color or party line, accountable,” Abella said in a statement.

“The Filipino people deserve to know the truth in this case, not the slanted truth nor the doctored truth," said Abella.

Sen. Francis Escudero earlier said the Senate may conduct a probe on the scam if government's reinvestigation turned out to be targeted at political enemies. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has just set a new investigation as alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, now in talks with government to turn state witness, vowed to name other officials allegedly involved in the scam.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II earlier said his department would reinvestigate the scam because there was “selective justice” during the time of his predecessor, detained Senator Leila de Lima, in the prosecution of pork barrel scam personalities.

Critics have said only the Aquino administration's perceived enemies were indicted in cases that stemmed from the scam, which saw billions of congressional discretionary funds diverted to bogus non-government organizations. Aquino’s spokesperson had denied this allegation.

Among those charged with various cases of graft, plunder and fund malversation were former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, former House of Representatives members, other officials and heads of agencies. 

Talks about the PDAF scam, which was uncovered in 2013, reignited after Napoles was acquitted Monday in the serious illegal detention case filed by her second cousin, pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.

In line with the reinvestigation, the DOJ said it was in talks with Napoles' camp to turn her into a state witness, even as she faced pending plunder and graft cases at the Sandiganbayan.

Palace spokespersons have said Napoles’ acquittal in the detention case should have no bearing in her numerous plunder raps. However, her lawyer said her acquittal effectively destroyed Luy’s credibility as a witness in the pork barrel scam cases.