Lawyer: Political alliance may absolve 3 senators

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Friday, April 4, 2014


THERE may be a strong chance that the three lawmakers charged in connection with the controversial Priority Assistance Development Fund (PDAF), also known as the ‘pork barrel’ scam, will be convicted, a lawyer and legal consultant of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno said.

Lawyer James Judith, however, said that the probability of conviction still remains to be seen as the Office of the Ombudsman has yet to formally start with its legal proceedings in connection with the plunder and other graft charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.

Judith said while it is the job of the Ombudsman to prosecute any public official who is implicated for violating the law, the problem now is with if it will stand the test of time.

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“It remains to be seen that the charges filed will prosper,” Judith said, adding that there had been a lot of cases filed against government officials in the past but they went nowhere.

While he believes that the Ombudsman will take action on cases that are filed before its office, Judith said the charges the three legislators are facing may not be decided right away.

“The way cases are being handled by the Ombudsman, malabo na sa timeframe within Pres. Aquino’s term,” he added.

There is also a possibility that the cases against the three lawmakers will be dismissed, if they found an ally in the country’s next president in 2016.

“Basin didto na ‘na mamatay (cases) sa bag-o nga president,” he said.

Judith said political ally or not of Pres. Aquino, public officials who commit any wrongdoing should be prosecuted.

“Ideally, dili man gyud dapat (political accommodation) but we can’t blame those who believe that it is because of politics,” he said.

“In all fairness to Aquino, he just wants the rule of law to be followed. It just so happened that the three senators are not his party mates,” Judith said.

But he said it’s too early to tell if Aquino will not use his political clout to go after those deemed as his political adversaries.

“I’m willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt that he can make the rule of law work regardless of whether the accused are his party mates or not,” he added.

Political connections

A couple years back, Judith, along with those who opposed former city mayor Vicente Emano, had filed plunder charges against the latter.

Most of those charges, Judith said, were dismissed while there are a few that needed follow-up.

He said he suspected that Emano may have a lot of political connections that is why some of the plunder charges against him were dropped.

And if connections are to be based on whether or not a case can prosper or not, Judith said a senator has more connections than a mayor.

“The ones they are charging are senators ug dili sab basta-basta nga mga senador. Wala gani madutli si Emano, how much more these senators?” he added.

But Judith said that even when Emano is no longer in power, the previous plunder cases that were not dismissed by the Ombudsman could still be followed up.

He said the aim of following up the cases is to make sure that Emano could no longer run for any public office in the future.

“Our intention, even if he is no longer mayor, is that the Ombudsman will decide on his (Emano) case so he can be disqualified from ever again running for any public office,” he said.

“Mao na ang importante. Bahala’g di ‘na nato siya mapa-priso basta di na siya makadagan pagbalik,” he added.

Legally, Judith said, a person can still be charged even when he is no longer holding a government position.

The common notion, he said, is that once a public servant is no longer in power, he could not be slapped with charges anymore.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 04, 2014.

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