MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Justice (DOJ) is now looking to change their strategy in charging the next group of people implicated in the pork barrel controversy. The DOJ is planning to file malversation instead of plunder charges, on the grounds that the former is easier to prove than the latter.
The Inquirer.net carried the report, based on disclosure from an official of the DOJ, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official explained that this possible change of strategy could be employed in charging the upcoming batch of senators, representatives and bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and is hinged on the fact that a malversation case does not necessitate the testimony of a whistle-blower, nor does it carry a P50-million marker for theft.
The source further explained that for charges of plunder to be proven, it must be shown that the accused time and again received kickbacks of no less than P50 million by means of the misappropriation of government funds.
Malversation, on the other hand, involves amounts that may be as minimal as P22, 000, and calls primarily for documentary evidence and not necessarily the first-hand accounts of whistle-blowers, with the burden of proof lying on the public official to prove that their fund was well-spent; if indeed it was.
“Plunder is just much better to hear than malversation, but both have the same results. And malversation is much easier to prove than plunder,” the DOJ official said, adding that both charges are non-bailable offenses.
Thus far, the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation have filed two sets of cases relative to the scandal.
Thirty-eight individuals were accused in the first set of cases, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. and reported scam orchestrator, Janet Lim-Napoles. All except Enrile are currently detained in police jails. Enrile is being held at the Philippine National Police hospital, due to his advanced years and ailing health..
Thirty-four people were charged in the second batch, which includes former Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon, former Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rodolfo Valencia, former Davao del Norte Rep. Arrel Olano, former Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV, former Ilocos Sur Rep. Salacnib Baterina, former South Cotabato Rep. Arthur Pinggoy Jr. and former Davao del Sur Rep. Douglas Cagas.