Duterte can’t probe lawmakers? Lacson, De Lima see inconsistencies
MANILA, Philippines — Senators Panfilo Lacson and Leila de Lima on Tuesday pointed out “inconsistencies” in President Rodrigo Duterte’s fight against corruption when the Chief Executive said he does not have the authority to investigate lawmakers getting kickbacks from government projects.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said that it was the Department of Justice (DOJ), an agency under the executive department, that prosecuted De Lima, who has been in detention since February 2017 over allegations of being involved in the illegal drug trade.
“May nakita lang akong inconsistency kasi si Senator De Lima, DOJ din ‘yung nag-prosecute. Ang nag-initiate ng investigation ‘yung DOJ din at that time,” Lacson said in an interview over dzMM.
(I just saw an inconsistency because, in the case of Senator De Lima, it was the DOJ that prosecuted. They also initiated the investigation at that time.)
“So anong kaibahan kung iimbestigahan din ‘yung mga congressmen? Dahil ang naintindihan ko, ‘yung batas patas naman ‘yun eh. It could cut across the different branches of government,” he added.
(So what’s the difference with investigating congressmen as well? What I know is that the law is fair. It could cut across the different branches of government.)
According to Lacson, Duterte could make use of the DOJ-led mega task-force to also investigate legislators.
“Nandiyan na ‘yung mega task-force, bakit hindi pa saklawin ang lahat?” he added.
(The mega task-force is already there, why not cover everyone?)
“Kasi kung ang qualification niya ‘Isa-submit ko na lang sa Ombudsman kasi wala akong power para pakialaman ‘yung co-equal branch of government—the legislature,’ parang hindi lang consistent sa status naman nung kay Senator De Lima,” Lacson added.
(Because if his qualification is that ‘I will just submit evidence to the Ombudsman because I have no power to meddle with a co-equal branch of government—the legislature,’ I think it’s not consistent with the status of Senator De Lima.)
De Lima herself chided Duterte’s reasoning that he could not investigate members of Congress.
“Duterte says he has no jurisdiction over and cannot investigate legislators because they belong to a separate branch. So all the while it appears I voluntarily walked to prison just for the heck of it,” she said in a statement.
“Duterte says he cannot investigate Congressmen and Senators because they belong to a separate branch of government,” she added.
But she cited the investigation done by executive agencies against former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada and incumbent Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. over the “pork barrel” scam.
“So who investigated and filed the PDAF complaints against Enrile, Jinggoy, Revilla, and a dozen or so congressmen? ‘Di ba [Isn’t it] NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) at (and) DOJ?” De Lima pointed out.
“Paki-review po ng Political Law n’yo,” she added.
(Please review your political law.)
Earlier Tuesday, Duterte’s mouthpiece, Secretary Harry Roque, tried to justify Duterte’s reasons for not publicly naming lawmakers allegedly making money through corrupt activities involving infrastructure projects due to lack of sufficient evidence.
Roque even explained that De Lima’s case was “one of a kind,” claiming “strong” evidence against the fierce Duterte critic.