Jinggoy Estrada hits delay in other pork cases
MANILA, Philippines–Detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is crying “selective justice” after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the filing of the third batch of pork barrel scam cases was not among her priorities.
Estrada, who accused De Lima of using the issue to gain mileage for her reported Senate bid, said De Lima was clearly only after the three senators, himself included, who have so far been detained over the alleged misuse of their pork barrel funds, in order to bring down the opposition.
Aside from Estrada, also detained for plunder for allegedly taking bribes from the use of their pork barrel, officially known as the priority development assistance fund (PDAF), are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla.
“Now that they’ve gotten what they want, they’re saying it’s no longer their priority to go after the other personalities who may have been involved in the PDAF scam,” Estrada said in a statement.
The first and second batches of PDAF cases have been filed with the Office of the Ombudsman.
The filing of the third batch of cases has been postponed several times.
Reports have named Sen. Gregorio Honasan, Director General Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, La Union Rep. Victor Ortega, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abono party-list Rep. Conrado Estrella III, among others, as the alleged respondents in the third batch.
But De Lima said on Tuesday she was not sure if the third batch of PDAF cases would be on her priority list before she steps down from the DOJ. She earlier said she would make a list of cases that she wanted finished before leaving office.
She said the complaints in the third batch were under review because of the possible falsification of documents or forgery of the signatures of the accused lawmakers.
But Estrada pointed out that there were many other parties who have been tagged in the alleged misuse of the PDAF funds, based on the Commission on Audit report on the issue.
“So what would happen now to the other legislators and to the other foundations/nongovernment organizations identified by the COA in its special audit who were also alleged to have committed irregularities and questionable transactions?” he said.
Estrada said he was wondering whether the justice department’s position stemmed from efforts to protect administration allies who may be implicated in the irregularities.
The probe and prosecution of other parties involved in the Malampaya Fund scam has apparently been “deliberately neglected and discarded for good,” he said.
“Why? Doesn’t the public deserve to know the truth and attain justice? Are they shelving the investigation because they are protecting the allies of the administration?” he asked.
Malacañang on Wednesday said no “special or preferential treatment” would be given to President Aquino’s political allies who are included in the third batch of pork barrel scam cases being prepared by the Department of Justice.
The assurance was given by Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. who also said: “No one (among erring politicians) can escape responsibility” but “concrete evidence must first be established before the cases are filed.”
“There is no waning of the President’s commitment in that regard,” Coloma said.
Of those in the third batch of PDAF cases, only Villanueva is a member of the ruling Liberal Party.
A Malacañang source said the filing of the third batch had been delayed because the Office of the President wanted to resolve the issues raised by the Tesda head that his signature had been forged.
According to Coloma, “there are two important principles here. First, there should be no discrimination, and second, there should be concrete evidence.”
On the reported delay in the filing of the third batch of complaints, Coloma said Malacañang had yet to get a “full report” on the case buildup from De Lima.
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