PALACE SEEN INFLUENCING OMBUDSMAN, SANDIGANBAYAN
President Aquino has sent a very strong message to his Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and the Sandiganbayan justices that the three key opposition leaders who have been implicated in the pork scam to ensure that they not only be prosecuted quickly by the Ombudsman and her prosecutors but that they also must be quickly convicted by the anti-graft court.
Through his new spokesman, the press secretary, Herminio Coloma, the strong message, seen by many as strongly influencing the Ombudsman, which is still investigating the complaint lodged by the Justice Secretary and her National Bureau of Invesgation (NBI), as well as the Sandiganbayan justices, whose court is now presided over by his appointee, a junior justice then.
Coloma said that the Aquino administration is determined to elevate the plunder charges already filed before the office of Ombudsman against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong Revilla as well as the controversial alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam, detainee Janet Lim Napoles.
And Aquino, Coloma further said, wants the fine line of separation between the two branches of government — the executive and the Judiciary breached and the two must together discuss and coordinate on this matter of prosecuting and convicting the accused of plunder.
Coloma also said the executive department has decided to implement “coordination” with the judiciary through the Department of Justice, acting as prosecutor, in ensuring a speedy trial in the plunder case at the Sandiganbayan.
Aquino, as reminded by Coloma to reporters, wants the plunder case against those indicted by the DoJ to be finished fully before he steps down from Malacañang.
Aquino had earlier declared that while he is still the sitting President, he wants a conviction on the plunder charges that had been filed before the office of the Ombudsman to happen before his term is up.
When a President—even through his spokesman—comes up with such a strong message to independent agencies, this is taken as a direct message to the Ombudsman, which is an independent and constitutional office to ensure the accused’s prosecution—and never mind if there is no strong evidence to back up the charges of plunder, to elevate these to the anti-graft court, that is then given the message that the President wants them convicted before his term as president ends.
Even his 12 minute message which preempted prime time programing on TV, where he claimed he and his administrators are no thieves and that those who stand accused of plunder are the thieves, that too, was seen as Aquino’s bid to influence the high court into upholding the constitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which part of the funds went to the presidential bribing of the senators to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Coloma continued with the President’s proposal for the coming together of the executive and the judiciary, saying:“Like what happened in the past, this can be reviewed by our Department of Justice, being the lead agency in the prosecution, and they can undertake the needed measures to coordinate with our Judiciary because the courts are under the Supreme Court,” Coloma stressed.
Coloma emphasized that there is a need for President Aquino and his men to cross the defined line, as separated by the 1987 Constitution declaring independence between the the two departments—the judiciary and the executive.
“There is a need to have an inter-branch consultation and discussion. The Executive cannot make a unilateral decision. There is a need to have discussions and coordination with the Supreme Court. This will be studied by our Department of Justice,” Coloma said.
It is believed that the key opposition leaders were being charged with plunder by Malacañang and the presidential aides to destroy their 2016 chances in the presidential and vice presidential race.
Revilla, who is chairman of the Lakas-Kampi political party, had already declared his intention to run for President in the May 2016 elections to challenge Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party.
Roxas ran for Vice President in 2010 but lost to former Makati City mayor Jejomar Binay, now Vice President.
Enrile has always been seen by the Aquinos, starting with the President’s mother, Cory Aquino, an enemy.
The current president also sees Enrile as his enemy.
Jinggoy Estrada is seen as vying for the vice presidency in 2016.
But apparently, this is not the end of the total Palace demolition of its political foes, as Secretary de Lima also declared she will be filing another set of charges that still is connected to the pork barrel of Napoles.
Not one administration legislator has been charged with plunder in relation to the alleged pork barrel scam.
Even the Commission on Audit, in its special report on the pork barrel failed to identify the administration legislators, claiming that the budget office failed to submit the documents for audit on the other senators, while the three senators were audited 100 percent on their pork.
Coloma said De Lima is expected to do what must be necessary, aside from her recent pronouncement that there were three departments that had involvement in non-Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) projects which had been coursed through to the fake NGOs of Janet Napoles.
“Well, we expect the Department of Justice to exert all efforts to build the necessary case and information that will move the prosecution process forward, and bring justice in the cases of anomalies committed regarding the misuse of public funds,” Coloma said.
Coloma said Aquino has not expressed disappointment in the results of the PDAF cases as handled by De Lima.
“There is a need here for wider knowledge, exposure, and participation of the larger number of Filipinos. While our government is leading the charge, the people have to rally behind him and participate (in ensuring that the corrupt legislators are prosecuted and convicted,)” Coloma said.
Aquino had earlier declared that while he is still the sitting President, he would want to have a conviction on the plunder charges that was filed already by Justice Secretary de Lima before the office of the Ombudsman.
Coloma said they have no time to be disappointed.
“If we would be disappointed, and eventually become weakened, our crooked adversaries are strengthened. What we need is determination and strong political will, and we can be assured this is what the President would be doing,” Coloma said.
Coloma said the people should end their wariness if those crooked are in the government because there are several means on how to send their sentiments.
“There are now many channels and platforms of information. Before, there was only the traditional media: you have to write a Letter to the Editor, expecting that the publication would give you space in the newspaper, or make a call to the radio station.
“Now, everyone can be a virtual writer, publisher; anyone can be a virtual broadcaster. We are free to express our sentiments in the new media and social media,” Coloma said.
Coloma said that since so many Filipinos have their respective cellular phones, he would call on them to participate in the campaign against corruption.
“Let us use these resources, like what we have seen in the issues of pork barrel anomalies,” he said.
On the matter of Janet Napoles, Coloma said the decision of the Department of Justice to charge her was based on concrete evidence.
“That is the primary consideration, and being one of those charged before the Ombudsman, and anyone not only Mrs. Napoles, who may be similarly situated we will assess what is their position. It has to be an evidence-based information filed before the Ombudsman,” Coloma said.
Coloma said even if Napoles would refuse to expound on her statements in the Senate hearings, the plunder case would have to push through in the office of the Ombudsman until elevated to the Sandiganbayan.
“That is the objective of our government, and we are firmly determined to achieve that objective, and that is why we stay focused on the objective of moving the process forward—from the Ombudsman to the Sandiganbayan—so those involved can stand trial and be ultimately be held accountable,” Coloma said.
Coloma said the blue ribbon committee Senate investigation is part of the overall efforts to ferret out the truth regarding the misuse of PDAF and other public funds.
“We join our people in hoping that this investigation will move the quest for truth and justice forward. We support our people’s clamor to prosecute and punish all those involved,” Coloma said.