No persecution in ‘pork barrel’ scam cases during Aquino admin – De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — “I don’t know what their definition of political persecution is.”
Detained Senator Leila de Lima had this to say as “sympathetic lawmakers,” including those with pending plunder cases in relation with the “pork barrel” scam, celebrate the acquittal of former Senator Bong Revilla and “cry political persecution from the previous administration.”
In a dispatch from Camp Crame in Quezon City, De Lima, who was Justice Secretary at the time of Revilla’s arrest and detention for his plunder and graft cases, noted Monday the Aquino administration “never resorted to public vilification or character assassination of any of those under investigation.”
“Reveling over the acquittal of former Sen. Bong Revilla, sympathetic lawmakers, past and present, including those also charged in other pending PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) Scam plunder and graft cases, cry political persecution from the previous administration,” De Lima said.
But she also said: “We never attacked their personal honor. Their rights were respected. So what persecution are they talking about?”
Last December 7, Revilla was acquitted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan and was allowed to post bail for the other 16 graft cases filed against him in relation to the pork barrel scam.
According to the opposition senator, “no evidence was fabricated” in the cases against Revilla and former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada as well as other officials from public and private companies for their roles in the multi-billion pesos pork barrel scam from 2004 to 2010.
“In the case build-up versus Enrile, Estrada, Revilla, et al, as an offshoot of Benhur Luy’s illegal detention and rescue, no evidence was fabricated,” she said.
“Evidence was well documented coming from official government documents like those from COA (Commission on Audit) and DBM (Department of Budget Management),” she added.
De Lima further said there were factual pieces of evidence and testimonies against those who were charged with plunder.
“The paper trail was established, backed up by credible testimonies of Benhur Luy and other whistleblowers. No witness was ever coerced, pressured or threatened,” she said.
“There was simply no reason to file a case against them other than the fact that evidence of their PDAF misuse was so blatant to be ignored by the PNoy (former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III) administration, irrespective of the political affiliation of those charged,” she added.
She also noted the plunder cases were handled by appropriate agencies independently.
“Their prosecution also went through an independent investigation of the Ombudsman, not only of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and the DOJ, (Department of Justice),” the senator said.
“The layers of government agencies that the cases went through assured the public that the cases were thoroughly studied to have evidentiary basis, evidence that was not manufactured, before the Ombudsman finally decide to file the criminal complaints with the Sandiganbayan,” she added. /kga
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