MANILA - Former budget secretary Florencio Abad and Senators Antonio Trillanes, Leila de Lima, and Franklin Drilon, will soon face charges in connection to the P10-billion pork barrel scam, Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II revealed Monday.
Aguirre said the charges will be filed in the coming days by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged brains behind the scam that funneled lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) into bogus non-government organizations.
"Nakausap ko na po actually ang kanyang lawyer. Ang sabi niya, in a few days, maglalabas na sila ng kaukulang habla at ifa-file ata nila iyun sa DOJ," Aguirre said in a phone interview with "Umagang Kay Ganda."
"Mga ilang personalities po, talagang prominent personalities po na involved sa PDAF scam ang uunahin nila... Ang mga nabanggit niyang personalities noong nakaraang administrasyon ay sina Secretary Abad, parang kasama rin si Senator Trillanes, Senator De Lima at [former] Senate President Drilon."
(I have talked with her lawyer. He said, in a few days, they will file charges before the DOJ. They will prioritize several prominent personalities involved in the scam. Among those mentioned were Secretary Abad, as well as Senators Trillanes, de Lima and former Senate president Drilon.)
Trillanes, for his part, denied any involvement in the scam and accused Aguirre of using his power to "persecute and harass" critics of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.
"Aguirre has been using his office to persecute and harass members of the opposition by fabricating testimonies from dubious convicts or detainees such as the Bilibid drug lords, Kerwin Espinosa and now Napoles," he said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
Trillanes also noted that he was never even mentioned in any of the Napoles' list of lawmakers who abused their PDAF, which she provided during the height of the investigations in 2013.
Drilon meanwhile said the allegation that he misused public funds was "a blatant lie."
"This is outright black propaganda and political harassment intended to silence the members of the opposition. If this is not revenge, I don't know what it is," said Drilon, a stalwart of the Liberal Party and head of the Senate minority bloc, where Trillanes and De Lima belong.
ABS-CBN News reached out to Abad, who was yet to respond as of posting. However, in previous interviews, Abad denied dealing with Napoles and had said he found it "amusing" that he was being implicated in the anomaly.
De Lima, meanwhile, earlier said speculated that Napoles was out to "persecute" opposition lawmakers like her.
NAPOLES AS STATE WITNESS
Last May, the Court of Appeals acquitted Napoles in the alleged illegal detention of her distant relative and corruption whistleblower Benhur Luy.
The administration then floated the idea of turning Napoles into a state witness in its re-investigation of PDAF misuse under the Aquino government.
President Rodrigo Duterte has accused the previous administration of shielding its allies from the pork barrel raps.
Aguirre however denied that the new pork barrel probe was a ploy to discredit previous administration officials.
"Iyan lamang ay pagpapatupad ng katarungan sapagkat kung ikaw ay nagkasala, at alam naman natin na kung ikaw ang namuno lalong-lalo na sa napakalaking pag-rape sa ating kabang bayan, wala pong paghihiganti po," the Justice secretary said.
(We are only serving justice because if you have sinned, and we know that if you led the rape of public coffers, the filing of charges is not an act of revenge.)
He also guaranteed that Napoles will not be absolved from her separate plunder raps if and when she turns state witness in the PDAF investigation.-- Report from Dexter Ganibe, ABS-CBN News