BY ROGER M. BALANZA
The Ombudsman for Mindanao has added in its list former House Speaker and Davao City First District congressman Prospero Nograles and his son, incumbent First District congressman Karlo Nograles, Davao City Third District congressman Isidro Ungab, current chair of the House committee on appropriations, and Compostela Valley First District congressman Rommel “Bobong” Amatong in its ongoing investigation of legislators from the Davao Region linked to the P10 billion Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF) scandal.
The names of Ungab and Amatong are in a new list of legislators alleged to have received kickbacks for ghost government projects from pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles. The list however contained only the name ‘Nograles’ possibly referring either the former Speaker or his son congressman Karlo Nograles or to both.
The PDAF scandal also known as the pork barrel scam involves legislators getting kickbacks from ghost projects funded by their PDAF allocations released to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) of Napoles.
Earlier, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed charges in connection with the scam against two sets of personalities including three senators.
The expanded evidence-gathering task for the Mindanao office of the anti-graft body comes as the names “Nograles,” “Isidro Ungab,” and “Rommel Amatong” appeared in a new list of legislators alleged to have received commissions from Napoles for connivance in the multi-billion peso PDAF scam..
The new list was submitted by former senator and now presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery Panfilo Lacson to the Senate blue ribbon committee which is investigating the biggest scandal to hit the Philippine legislature. The content of the list has been widely reported in media.
Another list has been submitted by Napoles to DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima who has yet to reveal its content before filing of formal charges.
Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman told media the new names in the lists would be included in their investigation.
Earlier, the Commission on Audit (COA) in its investigation report of PDAF allocations of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives listed Nograles, Ungab, former Davao del Norte First District congressman Arrel Olano, former congresswoman now Davao Oriental governor Corazon Malanyaon and former Davao del Sur congressmen Douglas Cagas and his son Marc Cagas.
The COA report had Nograles getting more than P600 million of PDAF, the second biggest next to former Compostela Valley congressman Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora who had P1.2 billion. DBM would later say that the PDAF figure of Zamora was a technical error.
“Our field investigation unit is actively involved but its report or recommendation has to be collated with that of the central office for the bigger picture. Napalawak at napakaramikasi,” Elman said in a news report in SunStar Davao.
“Our role is to conduct field inspection, validation, evidence gathering and case buildup, taking testimonies of witnesses and everything needed to strengthen our cases against them. All out ang Ombudsman diyan. Walang sinasanto,” Elman said, further explaining that while they are responsible for the investigation, the prosecution will be handled by the central office.
The DOJ has already filed two separate charges of malversation of public funds, graft, bribery and plunder charges against Napoles, several senators, congressmen and officials and employees of government agencies linked to the anomalous release of PDAF.
In the second complaint in November last year the DOJ included congressman Douglas Cagas, alleged to have received kickbacks of P9.3 million, and his son, Marc Cagas, P5.4 million in kickbacks, and Olano, P3.5 million, as commission in the pork barrel racket of Napoles.
The DOJ has also filed plunder charges against Senate minority leader senator Juan Ponce Enrile and senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla.