Palace, pols hit for pandering to interests of INC
Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello on Monday slammed the Aquino administration and its candidates in next year’s national elections for pandering to the interest of the bloc-voting sect, Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), to boost their political stock.
“This administration doesn’t want to enforce the law. This administration is watchful of the interests of its own candidate, Mr. Mar Roxas,” said Bello, who blamed the Liberal Party presidential candidate for the INC protest that lasted for five days.
In a text message, Bello said: “Roxas, as [Department of the Interior and Local Government] chief, will suffer from the perception of his inability to deal with the traffic chaos owing to his unwillingness to act and his allowing the situation to deteriorate into five days of traffic hell.”
Bello also chided the United Nationalist Alliance’s presidential candidate, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and Sen. Grace Poe for defending the INC mass action.
“Poe misrepresented the issue, Binay the same thing. Are we going to allow these people to lead the country? These people will lead the country to chaos. In this sense, the crisis had a positive side in that it revealed the jellyfish that the presidential candidates are,” Bello said.
He urged the people to make these candidates pay for sacrificing public interest for the sake of their political goals.
Aside from the presidential candidates, Bello said, INC itself was the biggest loser, as it showed its willingness to destroy “public order in pursuit of a purely sectarian interest.”
“I think they went a bridge too far. People’s resentment of their power over politicians that had been building for years finally boiled over. Living in a bubble created by the obeisance of politicians, the leaders were shocked by the public’s universal anger and revulsion at their strong-arm tactics to place themselves above the law,” Bello said.
Bello also said the government should fully disclose the concessions it gave to the sect.
“If the government promised dismissal of the case, it will lose a lot of credibility,” he said, referring to the criminal complaint filed by an expelled INC minister against members of the sect’s governing council.
Bello said he was afraid the government agreed to dismiss the complaint immediately.
He urged Justice Secretary Leila de Lima not to back down.
“De Lima was the one administration official to emerge really smelling good. Dismissal of the case will mean loss of all that goodwill toward her and impact severely on her candidacy for the Senate. To retain her credibility, she might need to resign if the administration backs off and conciliates [INC Executive Minister Eduardo] Manalo,” Bello said.
Poe ‘did nothing wrong’
Also on Monday, Poe’s camp said she did nothing wrong when she expressed support for the INC protest.
Poe’s chief of staff, lawyer Nelson Victorino, issued the statement to rebut the statement of the lawyer of expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. that the senator could be charged with graft and corruption by saying De Lima should give priority to other cases instead of Samson’s complaint.
Lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles on Sunday warned that politicians who would try to influence the Department of Justice (DOJ) into dropping or shelving the complaint faced graft and corruption charges.
Angeles cited the provision of the antigraft law that considered unlawful the acts of a public official who “persuades, induces or influences” another public officer to act in violation of that officer’s sworn duty.
Victorino said Poe “did not persuade, induce or influence Secretary De Lima to commit any violation of the law.”
“In her statements, she did not even suggest that Secretary De Lima stop the investigation of the complaint against INC personalities. She acknowledges that it is [De Lima’s] duty to investigate criminal complaints,” Victorino said.
He said that Poe also recognized that INC members “enjoy certain freedoms like freedom of expression and the right to peacefully assemble to express themselves within the bounds of the law.”
Poe is leading potential candidates for President in the voter preference polls but she has not yet declared her candidacy,
Binay, a declared presidential candidate, continued to defend the bloc INC.
On Monday, Binay’s camp urged De Lima to give priority in completing the DOJ’s investigation into the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Binay’s political spokesman Rico Quicho slammed the DOJ for considering an “internal problem of INC more urgent” than the billions of pesos involved in the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam as well as the Malampaya Fund scam and the slaying of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, in January.
Noting that De Lima had said she has considered running for senator next year, Quicho said the justice secretary should resign so her replacement could attend to the three more urgent cases. Gil C. Cabacungan and Christine O. Avendaño
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