MANILA – Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad sought for an exclusion from the P10-billion pork barrel scam case, insisting that Antonio Ortiz’ petition to make him principally liable for the graft charges lacked merit and had no legal and factual bases.
Ortiz, who was the former director general of the Technology Resource Center (TRC), has been accused in two graft charges in connection with the multi-billion pork barrel scam allegedly perpetuated by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Ortiz’ lawyer, Bonifacio Alentajan, sought to make Abad principally responsible for his client’s cases as it was the budget secretary who released the notice of cash allocation (NCA) and special allotment release order (SARO) to Napoles’ bogus foundations and nongovernment organizations.
“It was [Abad] who released the money. He’s actually the most guilty in this case,” Alentajan told reporters, adding that the secretary was then liable for the purported diversion of the congressional allocations supposedly intended for the poor but was misused in ghost projects and programs.
Abad’s lawyers, however, quickly opposed the 10-page motion.
“The decision on who to prosecute is an executive, not a judicial, prerogative… A policy of non-interference stands insofar as the Ombudsman’s exercise of investigatory and prosecutorial powers is concerned,” the budget secretary’s counsel said.
“Such independence in the Ombudsman who, beholden to no one, acts as the champion of the people and preserver of the integrity of the public office,” they added.
Abad’s lawyers then asked the Office of the Ombudsman to deny Ortiz’ petition.
“It is thus beyond the domain of this Honorable Court to order the Panel of Prosecutors to conduct a preliminary investigation against a person not charged in an information, especially with a pre-determined result, that is, to indict that person in court, as what is being prayed for by accused Ortiz,” they said.
“On the face of the motion, there are no legal and factual bases to conduct a preliminary investigation against Secretary Abad. The motion merely contains bare allegations and conclusions,” they added.