By Katrina Domingo
Pork-barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy has agreed, with some convincing by his lawyer, to enter the Witness Protection Program (WPP), Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced on Thursday.
"We were advised by the lawyer, Attorney Levi Baligod, that they will now be coordinating with the WPP office for the purpose of putting under WPP coverage yung kanyang mga kliyente [his clients]," De Lima said.
She said a "small team of trusted investigators" is getting to the bottom of misused government funds.
She added that more investigators from the Anti-Fraud Division of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had been tapped to sift through voluminous documents.
The team will only reveal its findings after cobbling together a strong, solid case.
But De Lima clarified that she would treat as the illegal detention case filed by Luy separately from the his expose on a scheme that funneled P10 billion in pork barrel funds through fictitious nongovernment organizations.
In both case, though, Luy accused the same person – Janet Lim Napoles, owner of JLN Corp.
De Lima said that Napoles's claim that Luy used NBI agents to further his case was only a strategy to destroy the investigating agency's credibility.
She said: "Hindi namin papatulan yung ganyang mga moves or strategy. Kasi, at the end of the day, ang nakikita ko baka strategy din nila yan na sisiraan nila ng husto ang NBI o gagalitin nila ang NBI para masabihang: Oh wag na NBI ang mag-imbestiga kasi hindi impartial... biased na [We won't fall for such moves or strategy. It's because, at the end of the day, I can see that it might also be their strategy to discredit the NBI or get it angry so that people will say: 'Let's not allow the NBI to investigate because they're no longer impartial... they're already biased]."
Meantime, Nueva Ecija Rep. Magnolia Antonino-Nadres said she feared that bogus NGOs might have also abused the Internal Revenue Allotment of local government units.
Nadres said reports from her district personnel show that the town of San Leonardo in Nueva Ecija disbursed about P500,000 to companies and individuals without proper documentation.
She said she would still have to confirm if funds released from May to December 2012 had indeed gone to projects.
Investigators are also verifying if the mayor of San Leonardo is involved in the scam.
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Before it was known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), it used to be the Countrywide Development Fund. Whatever it may be called, the bottomline is it is an appropriation made to help the political careers of elected officials. Solar News anchor Pia Hontiveros takes a closer look at the history of pork. Aired on Solar Daybreak, November 7, 2013.