MANILA - Vice President Jejomar Binay reminded Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that legal processes need to be followed even in the case of Ruby Tuason, the former aide of ex-President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who has turned state witness in the pork barrel scam.
“Vice President Binay wishes to remind the Secretary of Justice that the presumption of innocence is enshrined in the Constitution. That some personalities involved in the PDAF controversy are his political allies is incidental. This Constitutional right extends to all, allies and foes alike. This is what the Vice President fought for as a human rights lawyer—along with countless others— during martial law. This is the Vice President's personal crusade,” said Joey Salgado, Binay’s spokesman.
Binay earlier scoffed at de Lima’s reaction that Tuason’s statements in the pork scam was a “slum dunk” for the prosecution.
In response, de Lima said Binay seems to be “belittling” the prosecution’s efforts.
"Well, he (Binay) is entitled to his opinion and I respect his opinion. Ang parang nakakalungkot lang is instead of encouraging us to further strengthen evidence, [instead of] encouraging us to pursue what we are doing now ay minamaliit nila. Bini-bellitle or they're even scoffing at our evidence," de Lima said.
Binay said the issue has nothing to do with political alliances.
Those who have been accused in the pork barrel scam are members of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.
Salgado said Binay also want reforms as long as these are in accordance with the rule of law.
“As a lawyer, he wishes to emphasize that only the courts can decide who can qualify as a state witness in criminal cases. There is a process that must be observed,” Salgado said.
He said prosecutors must file a motion in court first to discharge the would-be state witness from the rest of the accused and for the same person to be declared a state witness. He said the state witness should not be the most guilty.
“Therefore, Vice President Binay feels that any declaration that a person will be a state witness prior to approval of the court would be premature, misleading and not in keeping with the rule of the law,” Salgado said.
He said Binay, like the DOJ, also wants the perpetrators brought to justice.
“Vice President Binay extends his full and unequivocal support to our government prosecutors. He is fully behind their efforts to bring to justice those responsible for violating our laws. He is confident that our prosecutors will always adhere to the rule of law,” Salgado said.
“Lastly, the Vice President knows that our government prosecutors have their work cut out for them. They must erase any doubts that Ruby Tuason is qualified to be state witness,” he added.