Ombudsman will not appeal Revilla’s acquittal in 16 PDAF graft charges
Marje Pelayo • July 8, 2021 • 355
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has rested its case against Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. in the controversial ‘Pork Barrel’ scam.
This after the Sandiganbayan (SB) acquitted Revilla “for insufficiency of evidence on the remaining 16 graft cases” in relation to the alleged irregularities in the Senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
“The SB First Division voted 3-2 to grant Senator Revilla’s Demurrer to Evidence, AND WE RESPECT ITS DECISION,” the Ombudsman said in a statement.
Furthermore, the statement stressed that Ombudsman Samuel Martires will no longer challenge the “dismissal of cases/quashal of information and judgments of acquittal, either through a motion to dismiss, a demurrer to evidence or by a decision, rendered by the trial courts or the Sandiganbayan except when the People was clearly deprived of due process or there was mistrial,” citing Revilla’s constitutional right against double jeopardy.
“A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. The grant of the court of the demurrer is tantamount to an acquittal because the defendant is cleared of the criminal case and is no longer required to present his evidence,” the Ombudsman statement explained.
Revilla was accused in 2014 of diverting his PDAF for the years 2006 to 2009 to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) linked to ex-Cagayan de Oro congressman and Pork Barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
The senator was alleged to have received P224.5 million kickback in the process.
Napoles was convicted of plunder in relation to the scam in 2018.
MANILA, Philippines — The deployment of prosecutors and state auditors who will serve as resident ombudsmen to government agencies prone to corruption is expected to begin this month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.
This is after the DOJ, together with the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Office of the Ombudsman, signed a memorandum of agreement that would deputize DOJ prosecutors and COA auditors as resident ombudsmen.
Their tasks include the following:
Bring to host government agencies the Ombudsman’s frontline services by acting on complaints and reports against officials and employees of the said agencies
Serve as watchdogs and implementors or corruption prevention program
Monitor compliance with existing anti-graft laws and regulations
“The MOA synergizes the investigatory powers of the Office of the Ombudsman, DOJ, and COA in the implementation of anti-corruption measures, this aiding the OMB and the COA in carrying out their respective mandates while also serving as a mechanism for the DOJ to attain the objectives of the Task Force Against Corruption,” the DOJ said in a statement.
“The OMB, COA, and DOH shall jointly enter into agreements with partner agencies regarding the terms of deployment of the resident Ombudsmen, which is expected to start rolling this month,” it added.
This development comes after COA included in its report alleged “deficiencies” in the Department of Health’s use of COVID-19 funds.
The issue has prompted Congressional hearings on the utilization of DOH’s funds for COVID-19 response.
MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday assured that its officials who are facing graft complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman will respond in an appropriate forum.
The complaint, filed by Ricardo Fulgencio IV of Stop Corruption Organization of the Philippines, accused BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno and officials of central bank’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of granting P1.75-billion contract to Allcard International sans public bidding for the implementation of the national identification system.
Aside from Diokno, Prudence Angelita Kasala, Rogel Joseph del Rosario, Carl Cesar Bibat, Marianne Santos, Salvador del Mundo, and Giovanni Israel Joson were also named as respondents to the complaint.
“As regards the complaint filed with the Ombudsman relative to the procurement for the printing of cards for the National ID System, rest assured that the BSP officials concerned will respond in the proper forum once required in accordance with applicable rules,” the BSP said in a statement.
Fulgencio said the bidding process for equipment and materials for the Philippine Identification cards was flawed because the BAC of the BSP Security Plant Complex, which is in charge of procuring materials for the cards, required all bidders to procure raw materials, such as diffractive optically variable image device (DOVID) and polycarbonate sheets, from OVD Kinegram.
The complainant said this requirement is prohibited by procurement laws as it shows a specific reference to a brand name.
“[The] respondents’ act of requiring the bidders to procure their raw materials from OVD Kinegram AG effectively gave the latter private party, unwarranted benefits. The respondents’ preference to Kinegram deprived other DOVID suppliers of the opportunity to bid for the project and robbed the government of getting the most advantageous terms for the supply of such raw materials,” the complaint read.
“Clearly, this is a corrupt practice. Henceforth, it is respectfully prayed before this Honorable Office that after the requisite preliminary investigation, criminal information against the herein respondents be filed before the Sandiganbayan,” it added.
Despite the complaint, the BSP said that it supports the rollout of the National ID as it is key to wider financial inclusion that promotes shared economic growth and the financial wellbeing of Filipinos.
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he will ask President Rodrigo Duterte if he is willing to voluntarily release his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) following the strict rules imposed by the Ombudsman on the access to the wealth declaration of officials.
Roque said the president’s office is just following the guidelines issued by the Ombudsman.
“Mag-uusap po kami ng ating president at para matapos na po itong issue na ito, ay tatanungin ko po baka naman po magbigay ng permiso ang president para isapubliko ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.
The Ombudsman recently issued a memorandum circular restricting access to the SALN of public officials.
The circular states that a copy of a public official’s SALN may only be released if the requestor is an authorized representative of the declarant or the person who filed the document; if there is a court order in relation to a pending case, and if the request is made by the Ombudsman’s field investigation units.
Prior to the issuance of the circular, Roque said Duterte had released his SALN yearly.
“Wala pong itinatago ang ating president, bago po maglabas ng ganitong guidelines ang Ombdusman, taon-taon naman po inilalabas ng president ang kaniyang SALN,” he said.
The question of whether Duterte will voluntarily publicize his own net worth resurfaced after the 2019 SALN of 24 senators were released by the Senate on Thursday. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
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