Court of Appeals freezes bank accounts of small Pork Barrel fishes; big fish bank accounts “Empty”

Court of Appeals freezes bank accounts of four ex-solons over pork scam

Pork scam suspects continue to feel the wheels of justice. The Court of Appeals has issued a freeze order covering the bank accounts of four former congressmen and six staff members of three senators who are implicated in the 10-billion pork barrel fund scam.

In a 43-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Manuel Barrios, the CA Former Second Division said covered by the freeze order were the bank accounts of the following:

  • former APEC party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez;
  • former Agusan Del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza;
  • former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa
  • former Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula

Also covered were bank accounts of:

  • Atty. Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes, former chief of staff of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile;
  • Richard Cambe, chief of staff of Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr;
  • Ruby Tuason, a representative of Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada;
  • Pauline Labayen, staff of Estrada;
  • Jose Sumalpong, chief of staff of former Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete; and
  • Erwin Dangwa, chief of staff Dangwa.

These individuals are among the 38 individuals earlier slapped with criminal complaints at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the supposed misuse of 10 billion of Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pork Barrel).

De Lima knew about it 'weeks ago'

For her part, De Lima admitted she knew about the OSG requesting the CA to issue the freeze order "a few weeks ago." She, however, kept mum about it in the media.

"I was advised not to be announcing it kasi alam niyo na, kapag ina-announce ang pag-freeze ng mga assets, bank accounts ay baka unahan tayo nung mga iyan, nung mga may hawak ng accounts na iyan. So it's not safe at all to be disclosing those things," De Lima told reporters in Manila.

She said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was "closely coordinating" with the Anti-Money Laundering Council in relation to moves by the government to have assets of people involved in the fund mess frozen

Plaza, who according to the NBI had amassed P42.1 million from the scam, left the country on September 11.

Tuason left on August 26, while the Bureau of Immigration has also confirmed that Reyes left the country August 31.

The CA said the freeze order, served to the banks on Wednesday, would be in effect for three months.

The CA ordered the banks covered by the order to submit within 24 hours a return of the freeze order, to show that they have complied.

The freeze order stemmed from an earlier request to the CA made by the AMLC through the Office of the Solicitor General.

Concurring in the resolution were Associate Justices Remedios Salazar-Fernando and Normandie Pizarro.

Janet Lim-Napoles herself, the supposed mastermind of the fund scam, could not touch her bank accounts after the CA in August issued a similar freeze order against her bank and investment assets, and those of her family, employees, and supposed non-government organizations. —KG/HS, GMA News

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