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2 considerations support PDAF-DAP cases reopening

THERE is today so much talk about businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles ready to talk, possibly as a state witness, on the “pork barrel” funds released during the previous administration through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Congress and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of Malacañang.

There are legal issues involved in using Napoles as a state witness when she supposedly was the “mastermind” in the scheme that drained billions of pesos from government coffers over several years, under the PDAF and DAP which were subsequently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II met on this matter last Thursday with Napoles’ lawyer, who pointed out that since, in plunder cases, the principal accused are government officials, Napoles was only deemed to have contributed to the plunder. She could, therefore, be considered among the least guilty in the cases and qualify to be a state witness, according to her lawyer.

For Sen. Chiz Escudero, the important thing is that any new investigation must not be “selective” – which was the main criticism of the cases filed during the previous administration. It was charged then that many allies of the Aquino administration were spared investigation and prosecution, so that only three opposition senators got to be charged in court and detained. And yet scores of legislators were allegedly involved.

Escudero also pointed out that the Commission on Audit found irregularities in the use of PDAF in the amount of P14 billion. The cases linked to Napoles amounted to only P6 billion. There were apparently other operations involving other groups that remain unknown and untouched to this day. Escudero said he hopes the new investigation will now shed light on these other operations.

On these two considerations alone – the need for an inquiry that is not selective as before and the need to expose other cases involving as much as P8 billion – the move to reopen the PDAF-DAP probes merit the closest consideration.