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Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr.

Palace: The wheels of justice are moving forward

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr.

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – This was the statement by Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma on the Ombudsman’s resolution that plunder charges should be filed against three senators and other government officials and private individuals in connection with the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).

In a resolution released yesterday, the Office of the Ombudsman said it found probable cause to indict Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, as well as Janet Lim Napoles and a number of government employees and non-governmental organization (NGO) officers with plunder.

Secretary Coloma said the resolution is based on the evidence gathered separately by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office.

“This upholds the major points in the complaint filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the NBI in September 2013,” he said. “The wheels of justice are moving forward.”

The cases arose from the exposé of whistleblower Benhur Luy about a “pork barrel scam” involving the use of huge amounts of PDAF by alleged “dummy” NGOs for purported “ghost” projects in a scheme supposedly hatched by Janet Lim Napoles, the Ombudsman statement said.

The office of the Ombudsman said, “(T)he three Senators took undue advantage of their official position to illegally divert, in connivance with certain respondents, their respective PDAF allocations to the Napoles NGOs, in exchange for kickbacks/commission amounting to more than P172 million, P242 million and P183 million in the case of Senators Enrile, Revilla and Estrada, respectively, with the PDAF-funded projects turning out to be “ghost” projects, under a modus operandi of a combination and series of overt criminal acts repeatedly taking place over a number of years.”

The crime of Plunder under RA 7080 is punishable by reclusion perpetua (to death), and forfeiture of the ill-gotten wealth in favor of the government, the Ombudsman said.

Secretary Coloma said, “We share our people’s fervent hopes on the final resolution of these cases.”

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.