MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre ordered on Friday, November 24, the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate a malversation complaint against former President Benigno Aquino III as well as the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Aguirre, in three separate orders, also instructed the NBI to create special task forces for each probe.
“The National Bureau of Investigation, though Director Dante A. Gierran, is hereby directed and granted authority to investigate the complaint filed by the coalition for investigation and prosecution represented by Greco Belgica, et. al against former president Benigno S. Aquino III, et al. for malversation,” Department order no. 749. stated.
Last September, a coalition of anti-pork barrel groups led by former Manila councilor Greco Belgica submitted to the DOJ evidence supposed to prove the alleged misuse of DAP funds and asking the agency to prosecute Aquino and his former Budget secretary Florencio Abad and undersecretary Mario Relampagos.
The investigation into the PDAF and DAP anomalies, on the other hand, was to be reopened following the discovery of new pieces of evidence.
Aguirre also accused the Justice department under Aquino of having “suppressed evidence against other politicians.”
Earlier, Aguirre appointed Undersecretary Antonio Kho to head the task force to re-investigate the PDAF and DAP scandals. He had also said jailed businesswomen Janet Lim Napoles, who is accused of masterminding the alleged diversion of as much as P10 billion from the PDAF or congressional pork, might be considered as a state witness.
The investigation of the pork barrel scam undertaken by the DOJ under Aguirre’s Aquino-era predecessor, now detained Senator Leila de Lima, led to the indictment for plunder of former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Both Enrile and Estrada are out on bail. Revilla remains detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.
Napoles also remains in detention on plunder charges.
On the other hand, Aquino was hounded by accusations the DAP, which was also dubbed the “presidential pork,” had been used to bribe lawmakers into impeaching then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Aquino and Abad maintained the DAP was crafted and designed to fast-track public spending by tapping the savings and un-programmed funds of the government.
However, the Supreme Court in 2014 declared certain provisions of the DAP unconstitutional for violating the doctrine of separation of powers of the executive and legislative branches.
The high court also declared the PDF unconstitutional.
The Ombudsman has dismissed government officials over the pork barrel scam.
But it cleared Aquino and Relampagos over the DAP controversy while indicting Abad.