DoJ task force to reopen probe of ‘pork scam’

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THE Justice Department has formed a special task force to reinvestigate the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Monday Undersecretary Antonio Kho will head the special task force to correct “the miscarriage of justice” in the earlier probe of the diversion of billions of pesos from the Priority Development Assistance Fund conducted by the Aquino administration.

“I have already ordered the reorganization of the Task Force on PDAF cases for the purpose of reinvestigation,” Aguirre revealed, in a text message.

The new panel replaces the National Bureau of Investigation task force created by former Justice Secretary and now detained Senator Leila de Lima that conducted the fact-finding probe on the PDAF scam during the Aquino administration, which led to the plunder indictment of former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. and other lawmakers and executive officials before the Sandiganbayan.

 Aguirre said Kho’s team composed of prosecutors and NBI agents would start their assignment with the affidavit and documentary evidence to be submitted by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains of the PDAF scam.

“Just like in the previous investigation, the statements and evidence will be validated through records from relevant implementing agencies and the Commission on Audit. But this time, we can assure the public that there will be no selective justice–unlike what happened in the previous administration,” Aguirre said.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II

He said the same task force would handle the fact-finding probe on alleged anomalies in the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the economic stimulus program of the Aquino administration.

He said the panel would also meet with Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David and anti-pork advocate Greco Belgica for gathering of evidence.

Earlier, Aguirre said Napoles has implicated at least three senators and two former executive officials in the PDAF scam.

He said Napoles has tagged Senators Franklin Drilon, Antonio Trillanes IV and Leila de Lima in the anomaly as revealed by David during their meeting last month.

He disclosed that Drilon, Trillanes and De Lima as well as several other senators are included in the affidavit to be submitted by Napoles.

As for De Lima, who was not a lawmaker when the PDAF scam was carried out, Aguirre said Napoles would explain her involvement in the affidavit.

The Justice chief hinted that there are other senators in the list, but suggested that the names should come from the camp of Napoles and made public once she files the plunder charges before the DOJ.

Apart from lawmakers, Aguirre said Napoles also tagged at least two executive officials in the previous administration.

One of them, he revealed, is former Budget secretary Florencio Abad, while the other one is a higher Cabinet official he did not name.

Aguirre said Napoles tagged Abad as her mentor or instigator of the anomaly.

The other official, he revealed, was the one who got the alleged P10-million reward for the arrest of Napoles.

Aguirre has also hinted that Napoles might be used as state witness in the PDAF reinvestigation, believing that the government officials behind the scam should be considered the most guilty per jurisprudence set by the Supreme Court.

The reinvestigation on PDAF scam came after the Court of Appeals acquitted Napoles earlier this month in the illegal detention case filed by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy before the Makati regional trial court.

Napoles remains in detention since she is still facing plunder, graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan, along with former Estrada, Revilla and Enrile.

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