Former PDAF prosecutor: DOJ cannot take over Napoles case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) — Former Justice Undersecretary and ex-pork barrel prosecutor Jose Justiniano said the Justice Department cannot take over the prosecution of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) cases.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source Monday, Justiniano responded to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre's attempts to reopen the case, saying that the limitation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is clear under the law.

"The one which has primary jurisdiction to investigate is the Ombudsman. But the DOJ also can investigate," Justiniano said. "However, for the purposes of conducting a preliminary investigation, which is a requirement before a case may be filed in the Sandiganbayan, it should be the Ombudsman."

 

Justiniano added that if the DOJ decides to open the case, the results of the fact-finding must still be forwarded to the Ombudsman — which may take over the case at any stage of the proceeding.

This is under the memorandum of agreement signed by then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales in 2012.

In a media briefing on May 11, 2017, Aguirre said a new investigation will be conducted on the PDAF and DAP cases, after only three lawmakers involved in the scam were arrested.

"Tuloy-tuloy po tayo, that there will be no selective justice katulad ng nakaraan, out of several hundreds responsible individuals, public officials, tatlo lamang ang talagang nakasuhan," he said.

[Translation: We will continue. There will be no selective justice,unlike before, out of several hundreds responsible individuals, public officials, only three were charged.]

Read more: Aguirre: We will conduct a new investigation on PDAF, DAP cases

The Source host Pinky Webb also asked Justiniano to react on media reports saying Aguirre wants to reopen the case because the Ombudsman is too slow.

In defense of the Office of the Ombudsman, Justiniano said, "I suppose gusto nilang maka-tiyak na matibay ang kaso nila at accurate 'yung imbestigasyon namin. And then, ang daming documents dito, Pinky. Isipin mo, bawat beneficiaries, halimbawa—lugar. Pupuntahan mo 'yan, tatanungin mo. "Totoo ba talagang may project diyan? Nag-deliver ba?" Eh ang dami-dami niyan eh."

[Translation: I suppose they want to make sure that their case is strong and our investigation is accurate. And then the voluminous documents, Pinky. Think of it, all the beneficiaries--for instance, a place. You have to go there, and ask, "Was there really a project here? Was it delivered?" And there are so many.]

Justiniano assisted the Office of the Ombudsman in the plunder cases against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., and Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada.

The former Justice Undersecretary was also one of eight candidates of the anti-graft court of the Sandiganbayan in 2015.

Napoles' application for state witness rejected

Justiniano also said that insofar as the PDAF and DAP cases are concerned, Napoles was not used as state witness.

"As far as I can recall, Janet Lim Napoles already applied to become a state witness before the Ombudsman but it was rejected," Justiniano said.

Napoles had appealed to then Justice Sec. de Lima during her confinement at the Ospital ng Makati in April 2014. to become a state witness

When asked if the previous decision could be reversed, Justiniano said it is the Ombudsman's call.

"Unless there are compelling reasons now for her to qualify her as state witness, then the Ombudsman may reverse its previous decision but insofar as the previous cases are concerned eh hindi na siya ginamit [she was not used]," Justiniano said.

Read more: Aguirre: DOJ studying making Napoles state witness in PDAF scam

Justiniano added that if an accused wants to be under the Witness Protection Program, the accused must still go to the Justice Department.

"But then, under Section 10 din naman, pwede rin silang maging [they can still be] state witness if the case is cognizable by the Regional Trial Court," Justiniano said.

Former DBM Sec. Abad in original Napoles list

The former undersecretary also answered claims by Napoles' legal counsel Atty. Stephen David that Napoles may drop the names of Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad, former President Benigno Aquino, former Secretary Mar Roxas, and Sen. Franklin Drilon, as involved in the case.

"As far as I can recall, naroon talaga [his name is there]," Justiniano said.

In the original affidavit submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon committee in May 2014, Abad was listed as one of 120 people involved in the scam, through a representative named Manuel Jarmin.

Read more: Lawyer: Napoles to name 'higher' officials involved in pork barrel scam

But Justiniano denied the affidavit pointed to Aquino, Roxas, and Drilon.

Justiniano said that the list was first submitted to former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and to agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, before Sen. Teofisto Guingona revealed the list to the media in May 2014.

Abad released a statement on May 13, 2014 through the government's website he never dealt with Napoles in any manner.