JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said her office is still determining if some of those implicated in the third batch of pork barrel scam cases will be spared or not due to forged signatures.
De Lima said of the names implicated, three or four told the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that their signatures were forged.
“They are professing innocence or non-involvement in the scam because according to them, their signatures were in the first place forged,” de Lima said.
“Kaya ayun nga pinapa-review ko very thoroughly para sigurado tama ang pag-refer sa Ombudsman kung ma-approve ko lahat yun,” de Lima told reporters.
One of those implicated is Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Chief Joel Villanueva, a known ally of President Benigno Aquino III, who will reportedly run for senator under the Liberal Party next year.
But de Lima pointed out that political affiliations have no bearing in their investigation.
“We do not look at the political [affiliation] of any of our subjects for investigation. I keep on stressing that even sa first and second batches. Hindi ho kasama yan sa consideration. What we consider is the evidence. We always consider the evidence, if there is enough basis to refer the case to the Ombudsman,” de Lima added.
Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano earlier said they will forward their recommendation to de Lima who has the discretion to amend it or approve it as it is.
De Lima and Justiniano will meet on Wednesday to discuss their recommendation.
Still, de Lima clarified that even if the case has been referred to the Ombudsman, the anti-graft body will still have to decide if they will conduct further fact-finding investigation or ask the respondents to submit their counter-affidavit.
She said the Ombudsman has final say on the case.