MANILA, Philippines?Several lawmakers on Thursday criticized Vice President Jejomar Binay for making statements clearing the suspect in the blast outside De La Salle University in Manila last September 26. The explosion injured 47 people.
They said Binay should not rush judgment on the suspect, Anthony Nepomuceno, his fraternity brother in Alpha Phi Omega, and allow authorities to build up the case against him to prove his guilt or innocence.
?I believe his clearing is premature. He should have allowed the DOJ [Department of Justice] and the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] to make a case build-up,? Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez said at the Serye news forum in Quezon City.
Rodriguez, a lawyer, said the possible case against Nepomuceno should not be immediately dismissed, explaining that it is backed up by statements of witnesses.
?I?m not saying that Nepomuceno is guilty, I?m just lauding the DOJ for coming out with a primary suspect and that suspect can be cleared upon investigation or probable cause may be found to charge him. So, therefore, I think it would be premature for anybody to say he is innocent,? he said.
Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the justice committee, said that even if Binay did not clearly absolve the suspect, issuing statements impliedly clearing him was improper.
?It is not proper and it could also influence the quasi-judicial and judicial proceedings. Any suspect should go through the normal process of investigation irrespective of political connections,? he said in text message.
Representatives Karlo Nograles of Davao and Juan Edgardo Angara of Aurora appealed to all sectors to allow the authorities to conduct the proper investigation on the suspect.
?Either side should not jump to conclusions, there is an ongoing investigation, and those investigating should be allowed to do their job. There should be neither trial nor conviction by publicity,? Angara said.
Nograles warned against rushing judgment on the suspect.
?While we are hoping that the NBI has the right man so that we can finally consider the case solved, the suspect should be considered innocent until proven otherwise,? he said.
?I just hope the DOJ has built its case against the alleged suspect and has collected enough evidence to support its claims, because based on experience, premature announcements on high-profile cases tend to muddle the investigation,? Nograles added.
Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas said he believed Binay did not clear Nepomuceno, adding he was not in a position to do so.
?Being a lawyer, he was right in saying that the suspect is innocent as that is guaranteed by the Constitution that ordains that any person shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Accusation, much less suspicion, is not synonymous to guilt,? Farinas said.