Months after the P10-billion pork barrel scandal was exposed by the media, plunder charges have finally been filed against 37 officials believed to have conspired with alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Officials from the Justice department and the National Bureau of Investigation trooped to the Office of the Ombudsman September 16 with truckloads of evidence against three senators, five former congressmen and other officials.
Among those charged with plunder were Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla.
Facing the same charges are former Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete (now governor of Masbate) and former APEC Party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez.
The law defines plunder as the accumulation of ill-gotten wealth amounting to at least P50 million.
NBI claimed that the five lawmakers, through years of transactions with bogus non-government organizations led by Napoles, have reached the threshold for plunder.
Aside from plunder cases, charges of malversation, direct bribery, and other graft and corrupt practices have also been filed against three former congressmen.
These are former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza, former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa and former Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula.
The lawmakers have amassed less than P50 million through illegal transactions with Napoles, authorities claimed.
Other individuals charged were lawmakers’ staff, NGO officials and heads of implementing agencies or government-owned and controlled corporations.
In documents submitted for the case, the NBI detailed the modus operandi Napoles and lawmakers used to capture sums from Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
Lawmakers get up to 60 percent of the project as “kickback” for choosing to funnel funds to a Napoles NGO. Their staff also get 1-5 percent for transacting with Napoles.
Meanwhile, heads of implementing agencies get some 10 percent of the project cost. Napoles keeps the rest, after paying off the supplies used in the project.
But this means that in some cases where there is no project at all, Napoles gets to keep at least 25 percent of the total project cost.