Poe ‘support’ for INC not illegal — lawyer
Senator Grace Poe’s camp said there was “no legal and factual bases” to charge the lawmaker for violation of the anti-graft law for allegedly supporting the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s (INC) protest rally against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
“Sen. Poe did not persuade, induce or influence Secretary De Lima to commit any violation of the law,” Poe’s chief of staff, lawyer Nelson Victorino, said in a text message Monday, when asked to react to lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles’ claims that the senator might have violated the anti-graft law.
Angeles is the counsel for expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr., who filed a criminal complaint at the Department of Justice against leaders of the sect.
“In her (Poe) statements, she did not even suggest that Secretary De Lima stop the investigation of the complaint against INC personalities. She acknowledges that it is her duty to investigate criminal complaints,” Victorino said.
“But she also recognizes that the INC members enjoy certain freedom like freedom of expression and the right to peaceably assemble to express themselves within the bounds of the law,” he further explained.
Poe earlier said that De Lima should face the protesters and explain the situation. She said the Justice Secretary should also explain the merits of the INC case to the public and why the DOJ was handling it.
“Siguro mas makakabuti, dahil alam ko naman si Secretary De Lima, sabi nga niya ginagawa niya yung kanyang trabaho, ay humarap siya sa mga tao na nagra-rally. Mahinahon at i-eksplika, kung ano ba’ng sitwasyon bakit nangyayari ng ganun. Kasi after all, kami naman ang nasa gobyerno ang responsibilidad namin ay maipamahagi ng maayos sa ating mga kakabayan, bakit ganun ang aming mga hakbang sa pamunuan,” the senator said in an interview last week.
But Angeles said Poe’s statement violated Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft Law, which she said considered as a crime acts of “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.”
“It is an act of graft if someone asks the DOJ not to act on a criminal complaint,” Angeles reportedly said.
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