MANILA - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday said two Cabinet secretaries of former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III could face charges for their supposed involvement in a P8.7-billion roadway anomaly.
Citing a witness' affidavit and signed documents submitted as evidence, Aguirre said former Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad may be liable in the scam.
"Based on their signatures in the documents submitted to the NBI and on the sinumpaang salaysay of our witness, some high-ranking officials of the previous administration may have potential liabilities, like former DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, who apparently approved and requested the release of payments of fake road right of way claims," he told reporters.
"Former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who apparently approved the release of payment for illegal road right of way claims as requested by former DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, may also face potential criminal liability," he said.
Aguirre explained that the scam, led by a syndicate operating since 2009, sought right of way compensation for land owners affected by the national highway construction at General Santos City using fake titles.
Aguirre said the witness identified several public officials "as having participated in the processing, approval, and the eventual release of payments to cover these dubious claims."
These officials were from the Department of Public Works and Highways, Bureau of Internal Revenue, the City Assessor’s Office of General Santos, the Registry of Deeds, the Commission on Audit and the Regional Trial Courts, he said.
He added, the witness claimed Abad and Singson were "aware" of the scam.
"Yun ang implication, kumita ang lahat," he said.
Asked for reaction, Singson told ABS-CBN News he needs to study the complaint first as he was not in Manila.
Abad meanwhile called the accusation "baseless," saying: "I nor the DBM was never part of that transaction. Best to check with the DPWH."
Aguirre claimed the syndicate has since processed more than 300 folders containing fake road right of way claims, amounting to more or less P8.7 billion.
He said the witness, who has been provisionally admitted to the witness protection program, has also named the following persons as being involved in the scam: a Wilma Mamburam, Col. Chino Mamburam, Merceditas Dumlao, and a Nelson Ti.
Ti, the supposed financier of the group, is a close relative of Domingo Lee, the former Ambassador to China, and is supposedly close to Aquino, said Aguirre.
Aguirre said he has tasked the National Bureau of Investigation to continue its case buildup in order to further strengthen the case, "which most likely will include several high-ranking officials of the Aquino administration."
He asked other individuals who may have knowledge in the case or similar ones to come forward with the promise of being placed under the WPP.
"If they were able to do this in GenSan at napakalaking pera ang nakuha nila then I believe it is very possible, very probable that this has been also practiced in other parts of the country," he said.