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Political bloodbath, purge seen in Napoles’ list

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 06:55 AM April 28, 2014

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Senate should brace itself not only for tough times but for “political bloodbath” amid fresh allegations that more senators had skimmed off their pork barrel allocations, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said on Sunday.

Trillanes said the “bloodbath’’ triggered by fresh corruption charges might not necessarily decimate the ranks of the senators, but could throw a monkey wrench in their legislative work.

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“We are in for a political bloodbath that would last until 2016, and the Senate will not only be the institution affected,” he said in a text message.

In the end, “there will be legitimate political casualties, but there will be a lot of victims of black propaganda, too,” he added.

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Trillanes said the fresh allegations against senators would “gravely affect’’ their work between now and 2016, the end of President Aquino’s term.

In effect, these would be a source of distraction, he said.

Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, in a five-hour dialogue with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima last week, pinned down Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. as she vowed to come clean on the scam.

At least 12 senators implicated

Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson, who was given a copy of an unsigned affidavit of Napoles by her family, later said at least 12 senators were implicated by Napoles in the racket.

Both affidavits given to De Lima and Lacson would be evaluated by the Department of Justice in view of Napoles’ application to turn state witness, Malacañang said.

Sen. Grace Poe agreed that the chamber would face more rough times with the fresh allegations hanging over their heads.

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“Absolutely. But the recovery process begins when we purge ourselves if the facts are proven irrefutable,” she said in a text message.

While the process would be “very difficult,” it’s an “opportunity for us to better ourselves and restore the confidence of the public,” she added.

Whether the allegations had basis or not, these would be damaging to the Senate as an institution, said Sen. Vicente Sotto III.

Everyone suspect

He said that Lacson’s disclosure on the involvement of more senators has made everyone in the Senate suspect.

Without any evidence, Sotto said the proper time to disclose the names of the alleged scamming lawmakers would be the Ombudsman filing the charges against them with the Sandiganbayan.

“The trouble is, one is tried by publicity even before an investigation is made,” he said in a phone interview. “That opens a window for everybody else just to name anyone.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III backed proposals to call Napoles again to the Senate inquiry into the scam “to clear the air’’ following Lacson’s disclosure.

“Given the announcement of Secretary De Lima and Senator Ping (Lacson) that there are senators on the list, all of us in the Senate have a problem. So we want to clear the air; they should clear the air,” he said over dzBB.

Sotto, however, questioned the proposal.

“For what piece of legislation? Isn’t the blue ribbon committee report sufficient? If there is evidence, better send it to the Ombudsman,” he said, referring to the partial report released by the committee.

Joel Bodegon, counsel for Revilla, agreed.

“The whole Napoles affair is already with the Ombudsman for proper preliminary investigation. For that matter, the Senate has already completed its investigation and referred its report to the Ombudsman,” he said in a text message.

Bodegon added that there was nothing more for the Senate to investigate in aid of legislation “which it has not yet investigated from the Napoles’ affair.”

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chair of the blue ribbon committee, said he would decide whether to re-invite Napoles after evaluating her affidavit.

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, bribery, Crime, Grace Poe, Graft and Corruption, House of Representatives, Janet Lim Napoles, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, law and justice, Legislation, legislature, malversation of public funds, Philippine Congress, Philippines, Plunder, Politics, Pork barrel, pork barrel scam, priority development assistance scam, Ramon Revilla Jr., Senate, Tito Sotto
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