Too early to gloat over senators’ raps in Sona–Senator Marcos
MANILA, Philippines—It may be premature for President Benigno Aquino III to trumpet the indictment and arrest of three senators as an accomplishment worth mentioning in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) next month, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on Thursday.
After all, the Sandiganbayan has yet to try and determine the guilt of Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, he said.
“I’m always a little bit nonplussed by the assumption that they are guilty. Let’s see what the trial will bring. We do not exactly know the elements of the case,” he told a Senate press forum.
What would constitute an accomplishment is the conviction of any of the accused in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, and this could happen years from now, Marcos said.
“But the President can say that this is the effect of our anticorruption drive. You can say that this is validating the anticorruption principles of this administration,” said Marcos.
The President is expected to mention the case of the three senators when he delivers his Sona before Congress on July 28.
Revilla and Estrada have claimed that they have been singled out for prosecution because of their plans to run for higher office in 2016, but Marcos doubted this was true.
“We can’t say they’re a threat. If you declare you’re running, that doesn’t mean they need to immediately attack them because 2016 is still far away. We don’t know if the plan pushes through or it’s just talk,” he said.
Meanwhile, Marcos said it was too soon for him to declare any plans to run for higher office in 2016.
He said a lot of things could happen between now and the May 2016 presidential election, offering President Aquino’s phenomenal victory in 2010 as a case study.
“I don’t think there is a moment that you say, you have to decide by this time. I always go back to the example of August 2009. Senator Aquino wasn’t even a candidate. May of 2010 he was the President,” Marcos said.
The national outpouring of grief and sympathy for President Corazon C. Aquino, who died in August 2009, sparked calls for the then Senator Aquino to run for President, which fast snowballed into a movement.
Marcos, 56, said declaring one’s presidential plans this early based on the current political situation would be premature.
“If you decide now on the basis of what’s happening today, June 2014, a lot of things could still happen—you might make a wrong decision because things have changed, circumstances have changed,” he said.
Besides, the Nacionalista Party (NP), of which he is a member, has agreed to begin planning for 2016 during the last quarter of the year, Marcos said.
Despite speculations that he would take another crack at the presidency, the NP’s party leader, former Sen. Manny Villar, has not disclosed his political plans to his party mates, according to Marcos.
But two party members, Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV, have expressed their readiness to run for president and vice president, respectively.
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