MANILA, Philippines – Will the graft cases against a 3rd batch of lawmakers implicated in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam be filed before the term of President Benigno Aquino III ends?
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima told reporters on Tuesday, April 28, her department is focusing on resolving other "urgent" cases as the Aquino's administration enters in final year.
Both cases allegedly involve the use of fake non-governmental organizations controlled by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to siphon off public funds. The Priority Development Assistance Fund was a discretionary fund of senators and congressman, while the Malampaya fund could only be released with the President's go signal.
De Lima said the cases continue to be "under study," but she does not know whether they will be included in her "concentration and focus" because there are "very important matters" on her table.
What is taking the filing of the 3rd batch of pork barrel scam cases so long? De Lima told reporters the investigation revealed that the signatures of lawmakers suspected of conniving with Napoles to steal public funds did not match the documents in their possession.
"But I am still [asking investigators to check] on how to really go through that so the cases can still be filed," said the justice secretary, who earlier revealed she was being convinced to run for senator in the 2016 elections.
While the two controversial cases won't be prioritized anymore, the official in charge of the cases, Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, will continue to work on them.
Three incumbent senators and 5 former House members have been charged over Napoles' multi-million-peso diversion scheme, considered the biggest corruption scandal to hit the Philippines in recent history. – Rappler.com