Jul 122013
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is studying the possibility of including in its investigation several lawmakers being implicated in the P10-billion fund scam by a syndicate allegedly using “pork barrel” in ghost projects.

This was according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who confirmed on Friday that the NBI is in the middle of probing a fund scam being allegedly carried out by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, owner of JLN Group of Companies.

Her firm was allegedly tapped for government-funded projects that were later found questionable, including the P728-million fund for a fertilizer project for poor farmers that were allegedly diverted to benefit politicians and a sitting president.

“Whether or not lawmakers are or will be part of the NBI probe or whether or not there’s need to issue a look out bulletin will depend on results of the evaluation of the evidence,” De Lima said.

De Lima refused to give further details on the ongoing NBI probe on the fund scam. She also refused to identify the lawmakers who would be investigated.

“Given the gravity of the allegations, we’re keeping such investigation under wraps until the NBI completes its evidence gathering and evaluation,” she said.

Napoles and her brother Reynaldo Lim were earlier charged by the NBI for illegally detaining Benhur Luy, a lead employee of JLN Group of Companies and a probable witnesses in the fund scam.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), however, dismissed the complaint for lack of probable cause.

The NBI has already moved for the reconsideration of the DOJ’s dismissal.

De Lima earlier ordered the “rescue” of Luy, following a March 1 letter from Luy’s relatives asking the government’s help in ensuring his safety. They claimed Luy was illegally detained by the siblings.

But in its resolution, the DOJ said that contrary to Luy’s family’s claim in their complaint, the victim’s letter did not say he was being taken against his will.

Napoles had earlier been summoned to a Senate blue ribbon committee hearing in 2008 on the fertilizer fund scam, in which funds supposed to have been released to farmer-beneficiaries were allegedly diverted to the campaign kitty of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the 2004 elections.

De Lima said records from this Senate committee hearing would be among those to be “reviewed and examined” by the NBI for its own investigation. Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News

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