Enough evidence?

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Sunday, June 29, 2014


WAS there a plan to rush the filing of plunder cases against the three senators along with Janet Lim-Napoles and other accused? Or was the filing a result of pressure from an impatient civil society? After all, the plunder cases were filed at the Sandiganbayan days after the June 12 rally.

I am asking this because government prosecutors apparently erred in also filing plunder against Napoles when she is not a government employee.

This was magnified when the prosecutors, after saying they took time to study the evidences, sought to amend the charges.

Remember the initial bungling by the prosecution panel at the Senate trial against then chief justice Renato Corona?

Fortunately for the prosecution, the evidence against CJ Corona was very strong and the prosecution got their acts together to prevent the defense panel from striking most of it from the records. In the end, the defense collapsed when CJ Corona himself could not adequately defend himself on the stand.

In an ironic twist, then Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile is now one of the senators accused of plunder along with Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla.

Though I am not a lawyer, I can understand that their defense panels (including their media and political operators) would pounce on the prosecution’s motion to amend the charges. They are claiming the move showed the prosecution’s case was rushed and the evidence weak. Reports say the Revilla camp would move for the dismissal of the plunder charges filed against him.

I, however, tell myself that these are still opening skirmishes. In a chess game, we can say the defense gained an advantage. An opponent’s opening advantages could be equalized at the middle game.

But could the prosecution recover? Former justice secretary and 1BAP Party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello was quoted as saying the development of the case would depend on the strength of the evidence.

Like you, dear readers, I want to watch skirmishes at the Sandiganbayan live on television. Unlike impeachment trials that glued us to television daily, however, there won’t be any live coverage of the plunder trials.

***

With three senators and more politicians linked to the Napoles scam, it would be very difficult to keep politics and propaganda out. Perhaps, we also need to insulate the Sandiganbayan hearings.

Note that 2016 is still two years away and the Napoles scam controversy erupted last year yet. However, the opposition camp keeps on repeating the 2016 narrative.

Personally, I don’t give much weight to the politics argument. Whether corruption charges are filed long before or during an electoral campaign period, an accused politician will always cry politics.

Whether the Aquino administration focused on the three senators to politically cripple the opposition or not, guilt will be determined by the evidence presented. History, on the other hand, will either hail or condemn the Aquino leadership for its handling of its anti-corruption campaign.

***

The Cebu Coalition against The Pork Barrel System has not been spared of criticisms based on the political lenses of the critics. There are those who insist the coalition is pro-Aquino. Others consider the presence of anti-Aquino Left groups like Bayan a cause for concern.

Apparently, those who think in terms of traditional political paradigms could not understand the emergence of a rainbow civil society coalition against the pork barrel system.

Today, the Cebu coalition has not only connected with other anti-pork groups outside Cebu, it is morphing into a national coalition for people’s initiative to eliminate the pork barrel system.

Some friends in the Facebook group Maghisgot Kitag Politika, Bay aired concerns about the people’s initiative being used by politicians. However, the anti-pork movement is inclusive as long as we all work to eliminate the pork barrel system.

We know the pork barrel is intertwined with patronage politics. If the people’s initiative movement succeeds, corrupt politicians will think twice about spending millions for elections. Expect a completely different political terrain come 2016.

(Follow @anol_cebu in Twitter)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 30, 2014.

Opinion

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