Ombudsman junks Revilla’s motion to stop PDAF proceedings

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ombudsman logoBy Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.

MANILA, 30Jan2014 – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has dismissed Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s motion to suspend proceedings in the preliminary investigation being conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

In a 13-page joint order dated Jan. 28, 2014, the special panel of investigators determined that “no prejudicial question exists to warrant the suspension of the preliminary investigation.”

Aside from Revilla’s motion dated Jan. 15, 2014, the joint order also denied respondent Richard Cambe’s similar prayer of suspension contained in his counter-affidavit dated Jan. 20, 2014.

The joint order ruled that the civil case for declaration of nullity of documents, collection of sum of money and damages filed by Revilla on Sept. 13, 2013 (in which Cambe intervened as co-complainant) against Benhur Luy, et al. pending in the Regional Trial Court of Bacoor, Cavite has no bearing in the outcome of the criminal cases filed with the Ombudsman.

It explained that the issues in the criminal and civil cases are neither similar nor intimately related to one another, considering that “forgery or falsification, which is the gist of [the civil case], is not a necessary element of the [mentioned crimes].”

It added that the PDAF documents are not the sole or exclusive determinant of the existence of probable cause for plunder, malversation, or violation of the anti-graft law, as there appear to be other pieces of evidence (e.g., sworn statements of other witnesses, business records of companies controlled by Janet Lim Napoles, and reports from the on-site verification conducted by investigators in various provinces where the PDAF-funded projects were implemented).

The joint order considered the civil case as an afterthought and ploy to delay the criminal proceedings, since Revilla already knew about the PDAF documents and the issue of authenticity or genuineness of his signature on the documents as early as 2011 when upon the Commission on Audit’s request for confirmation, he confirmed that the signatures appearing in the PDAF documents belonged to him and Cambe, instead of questioning the same.

In the same joint order, Morales dismissed Revilla’s counter-charge for plunder against witnesses Benhur Luy, Merlina Suñas and Marina Sula, since the three have been admitted to the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program.

However, the counter-charge against Petronilla Balmaceda was referred for further fact-finding investigation.

Revilla’s counter-charge against his fellow respondents Dennis Cunanan, Antonio Ortiz, Alan Javellana, Gondelina Amata, Salvador Salacup, Mylene Encarnacion, Nemesio Pablo, Evelyn De Leon, Jocelyn Piorato, John Raymund De Asis and Ronald John Lim was dismissed because it stemmed from similar, if not identical, factual allegations as those filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office against them who are, in any event, already impleaded.

Morales also said that any further unfounded attempts to suspend or delay the preliminary investigation of the PDAF cases will not be tolerated, as the cases are imbued with paramount public interest.

Records show that several respondents have filed various motions for extension of time to submit their respective counter-affidavits and other pleadings. (PNA)

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