Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed Sunday that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) found significant evidence about the alleged conspiracy between Janet Lim Napoles and some lawmakers and government officials.
The pieces of evidence found after NBI’s probe are said to be enough to file plunder charges against the involved individuals.
“The inclusion of lawmakers in the case to be filed with the (Office of the) Ombudsman is among the recommendations of the NBI team,” De Lima said in an interview.
“Plunder is the target, and it cannot involve just a private individual. There should be public officers. That’s one of the elements of plunder,” she added.
“Whether or not there are private individuals who are co-conspirators or co-principals, a private individual can be charged with plunder. But it cannot be by his or her lone self,” De Lima continued.
Other than plunder charges, NBI would also file criminal charges against those individuals whose participation in the pork barrell scam are proven. Some of the criminal charges that would possibly be filed are ‘malversation of public funds,’ ‘graft,’ and ‘falsification of public documents.’
“That’s what we’re finalizing now. As I said, plunder has several elements like the amount involved should be at least P50 million. So for cases with amount below that threshold, there will be other charges,” De Lima said.
On the other hand, De Lima refused to give further details.
“We don’t want to give specifics… because we might be questioned if we don’t meet those targets,” she answered.
She also insists that the preliminary investigation will commence with or without Napoles’ testimony.
“I am not saying that these are very solid cases that can already convict anyone beyond reasonable doubt at this point. But of course we are building a strong case, that is why it is talking a little time. Our target is to convince the ombudsman that when we refer the cases to them, it is already ripe for preliminary investigation,”
With reports from Alexis Romero and Edu Punay