SENATOR Joel Villanueva yesterday welcomed the opinion of the Senate legal counsel that he cannot be ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman but said he was more concerned with proving his innocence.
“I want my name cleared because I am not responsible for the illegal use of this fund. My identity was stolen to commit this fraud,” Villanueva said.
The neophyte senator claimed that “they used fake signatures and letterheads” to involve him in a pork barrel scam.
“And this is an important issue. Because in this digital age, it is very easy to manufacture fake documents. It is also very easy to destroy individuals’ credibility and reputation,” he added.
“While I am glad that I can continue to serve the country, I also want my name cleared as I didn’t commit any crime against the Filipino people. I am a victim of identity theft and am still hoping and praying Ombudsman sees that,” said Villanueva, who has already filed a motion for reconsideration on the Ombudsman’s order.
Villanueva has repeatedly denied receiving illicit money when he was still a member of Congress as representative of the Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption or Cibac.
“This is an old case when I was a representative of Cibac in Congress. As far as I can remember, as a minority congressman then, I did not receive that amount,” he said in a statement after the Ombudsman issued the dismissal order against him.
“In addition, the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) has already made a conclusion that the signatures on the related documents were forged. One of the documents even used a Buhay partylist letterhead, when I was representing CIBAC partylist,” the senator added.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales in November ordered the dismissal from service of Villanueva after finding him guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the interest of service over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam as a party-list lawmaker.