MANILA – The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) on Wednesday reiterated that the agency cannot name or probe lawmakers linked in corruption at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), insisting that only the Office of the Ombudsman has jurisdiction to investigate elected officials.
PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica made this statement after President Rodrigo Duterte, on Monday night, announced that he referred to the Ombudsman a list of congressmen who allegedly received kickbacks from project contractors.
Duterte refused to name the legislators, saying he has no jurisdiction over members of a co-equal branch of government.
Belgica said the list of lawmakers was passed on to the Office of the President between about two weeks to a month ago.
“[When] we come across government employees that are not within our jurisdiction, wala ho kami magawa doon e (We can’t do anything about it). Hindi namin maimbestigahan ng pormal (We can’t investigate them formally) so we have to submit it to the appreciate agency. In this case it would be the Ombudsman and the Task Force,” Belgica said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
Belgica was referring to the Mega Task Force, formed by Duterte last month, to probe government-wide corruption, particularly in the DPWH.
He noted that the PACC will be discussing how to endorse their findings to the Ombudsman and Task Force for formal investigation.
“Elected officials po are not within our jurisdiction. Ang PACC is only authorized to investigate presidential appointees. Our authority is to help the President investigate corrupt presidential appointees and we are only authorized to recommend to him necessary charges that can be done and also file cases to the proper venue. Meron kaming (We have a) gag order, we cannot make public our investigations. We submit it to the Office of the President,” he said.
Belgica said the PACC’s function is limited to case build-up and case-filing.
He also clarified that the PACC’s main investigation is directed toward anomalous transactions within the DPWH and that it just so happens that names of lawmakers started appearing.
“These are reports that come from witnesses, contractors, some are government employees who, you know, have personal knowledge of the case or that’s been reporting to our office tungkol sa (about the) DPWH. In the course of our investigation, some of it, gaya ng isa naming (like one) witness, nagsasabi yung tungkol sa mga (talked about) connivance, porsiyentuhan (kickbacks) which involves DPWH contractors tapos meron pong isa nagsasabi o ilang nagsasabi may mga parte ang mga legislators (and there are some saying legislators also received kickbacks),” he said.
The PACC was created through Executive Oder No. 43, signed by Duterte on Oct. 4, 2017, to “directly assist” the President in investigating and/or hearing administrative cases involving graft and corruption against all presidential appointees. (PNA)