De Lima to senators linked to PDAF scam: Stop playing the victim card
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima on Friday castigated the plunder-tainted senatorial hopefuls Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla for apparently attempting to revive their public image by playing the victim card.
“Jinggoy Estrada’s and Bong Revilla’s pitch during the launching of their senatorial campaigns that they were persecuted (‘Pinag-initan lang kami’) by the Aquino administration is a stark reminder of how discredited politicians attempt to rehabilitate their public image by playing the victim card,” the detained senator said in a dispatch from Camp Crame.
“The public must be forewarned that not all of those who claim to be victims of persecution are indeed victims. Sometimes they are just truly the crooks that they are who deserve to be locked up for good, instead of being elected once again to public office,” De Lima underscored.
The lawmaker also said no one else but the people fell victim when hundreds of millions of pesos of these former senators’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) were siphoned to scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles’ bogus nongovernment organizations.
De Lima said the cases against Revilla and Estrada were backed by documents, paper trail of requests and disbursements, and whistleblower testimonies and narratives.
“These findings of the NBI under my term as DOJ Secretary were then fully supported by the independent Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman found the evidence sufficient to prosecute them for the crimes of plunder and corruption, and thus proceeded to file the criminal charges with the Sandiganbayan,” she added.
For De Lima, the previous Aquino administration only did its job in going after the PDAF plunderers, while the Duterte administration “is the one hell-bent on rehabilitating those responsible by endorsing them as its own senatorial candidates.”
On Tuesday, Estrada claimed he was innocent over the multibillion-peso PDAF scam in 2014, saying he was a victim of the Aquino administration’s “selective justice.”
“Pinagbakasyon kami nung nakaraaang administrasyon (dahil) sa walang basehang kaso,” Estrada claimed. “Pwede kaming humarap ni Bong, at sabihin sa inyo wala kaming kasalanan sa taumbayan. Kami ay napag-initan lang nung nakaraang administrasyon. Biktima lang kami ng selective justice.”
Revilla, Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile are the so-called “PDAF-scam senators” running for Senate in the May polls.
In June 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman indicted them for plunder and multiple counts of graft in connection with the multi-billion pesos PDAF or pork barrel scam.
Estrada and Enrile are currently on bail while Revilla was recently acquitted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan. /je