TWO secretaries of former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and a close friend face investigation for involvement in the alleged P8.7-billion road right-of-way claims anomaly in General Santos City, an official said Friday.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said former Budget secretary Florencio Abad and former Public Works secretary Rogelio Singson will be investigated for possible criminal liability for their alleged role in the anomalous acquisition of “ghost” road right-of-way for government projects involving billions of pesos in public funds.
Citing the testimony of a witness who is now under the custody of the Department of Justice, Aguirre said it was Singson and Abad who approved the payment of the fake RROW claims.
“Based on their signatures in the documents submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation and on the statement of our witness, some high-ranking officials of the previous administration may have potential liabilities like former DPWH secretary Rogelio Singson who apparently approved and requested the release of payment of fake RROW claims,” Aguirre told reporters.
He said Singson and Abad “may face potential criminal liability” for the scam that had defrauded the government of at least P8.7 billion, covering more than 300 folders, based on the testimony of a witness “who is personally involved” in the syndicate.
He said it was Abad who apparently approved the release of payment for the illegal RROW claims as requested by Singson.
Aguirre said a witness came forward and gave the names of those allegedly involved: Wilma Mamburam, Col. Chino Mamburan, Merceditas Dumlao and Nelson Ti, who is the group’s financier and a close friend of former President Aquino.
“Some of the persons named by our witness as being involved is a Wilma Mamburam, Col. Chino Mamburan, Merceditas Dumlao and Nelson Ti. Our witness further revealed that Mr. Nelson Ti, the financier of the group, is a close relative of Domingo Lee, Philippine Envoy to China, and is supposedly close to former President Benigno Aquino III,” Aguirre said.
“I was also informed that for the syndicate to accomplish these apparently criminal acts, several public officials from the Department of Public Works and Highways, Bureau of Internal Revenue, the City Assessor’s Office of General Santos, the Registry of Deeds, the Commission on Audit and the Regional Trial Courts have been identified by the said witness as having participated in the processing, approval and eventual release of payments to cover these dubious claims.”
Aguirre said that, based on the initial reports submitted by the NBI, the criminal syndicate purportedly submitted fake titles in the name of non-existent people to allow them to claim from the DPWH just compensation from the expropriation of land which would be supposedly occupied by government projects.”