Ejercito to colleagues: Leave judgment on ‘pork’ scam to courts

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Saturday, February 15, 2014


SENATOR JV Ejercito on Saturday reminded members of the Blue Ribbon committee to leave it up to the courts to determine whether senators linked to the pork barrel scam have committed plunder and malversation of public funds.

"We are not in the Blue Ribbon committee to judge, we are there in aid of legislation," Ejercito said in a text message.

On Thursday, potential state witness Ruby Tuason was quizzed by senators over her role as "go-between" for alleged pork scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles, and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.

Both senators have been accused of plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman.

According to Tuason, she had personally delivered kickbacks to Estrada and lawyer Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, former chief of staff of Senator Enrile. Reyes had also been charged with plunder.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III, Blue Ribbon committee chairman, said Tuason's testimony was a "very, very strong evidence" against those involved in the misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, for her part, said that Tuason's dealings with Reyes are enough to disprove Enrile's claim that he was not directly involved in the PDAF controversy. Santiago is a staunch critic of Enrile.

But Ejercito reminded his colleagues that the Blue Ribbon hearings are held in aid of legislation.

"(We should) get information that may be helpful in crafting laws that will present occurrence of such crime again in the future. Judgment should be left to the proper courts at the proper time," Ejercito, half-brother of Senator Estrada, said.

Being a Senate committee in charge of seeking accountability of public officers, Guingona said his panel has the power to recommend charges before the Ombudsman.

"We still have to finish the hearings so let us finish the hearings. My point really being, malakas ito, matindi ito. May ebidensya eh, siya nagsasabi...We do recommend prosecution as we do have done before," he told reporters. (Sunnex)

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