House won’t shield lawmakers from liability over ‘pork’ misuse-A A +A
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
SPEAKER Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday said the House of Representatives will not interfere with the rule of law in case charges are filed against incumbent congressmen in connection with the misuse of priority development assistance funds (PDAF).
"Those who violated the rules on the PDAF, of course, they have to answer for it and I'm hopeful that as the wheels of justice go, then they (public) will see that our system of government works," Belmonte told reporters.
"If I know them or they are my friends, I will tell them that 'you should not have done this'. But still, I would like the wheels of justice to take its course," the Speaker added.
Belmonte is a member of the ruling Liberal Party.
On Monday, the Department of Justice filed plunder charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. for allegedly conniving with detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles to pocket millions of pork barrel funds.
Belmonte said he feels "really sorry" for former Senate President Enrile. "I have worked with him very well when he was Senate President. Our working relationship was very good," Belmonte said.
Also charged with plunder or malversation, bribery and graft and corrupt practices are several former congressmen, Napoles, the staff of the lawmakers concerned, heads of several agencies, and presidents of questionable non-government organizations (NGOs).
Former House members charged before the Office of the Ombudsman are: Rizalina Lanete (Masbate), and Edgar Valdez (Apec party-list) for plunder; and Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur), Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), and Constantino Jaraula (Cagayan de Oro) for malversation, direct bribery and other graft and corrupt practices.
Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the head of the House independent minority bloc, thinks however that the House of Representatives should have jurisdiction in disciplining its members.
"It' incumbent upon the House to maintain control over congressmen when it comes to disciplining its members," Romualdez, former chairman of the House committee on ethics, said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)