Palace ready for any destabilization as 'pork scam' trial nears

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 10 2014 04:40 PM | Updated as of Jun 11 2014 12:40 AM

MANILA - A Palace official said the administration is ready for any political backlash or destabilization that may arise from the filing of charges over the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.

Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said, “Buo ang kahandaan ng ating pamahalaan na tumugon sa ganyang mga sitwasyon."

Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada have been indicted by the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly siphoning pork barrel funds into bogus projects implemented by so-called organizations under Janet Lim Napoles.

The 3 have already denied any wrong doing.

Estrada and Enrile were allies under the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada. The Palace doesn't think that is also a problem.

"Hindi po natitinag ang determinasyon at commitment ng ating Pangulo na tuparin ang kanyang ipinangako sa mga mamamayan na bahagi ng kanyang social contract with the Filipino people, at ito po ay masiglang ipinapatupad ng ating administrasyon, bunsod na rin ng malawak at malalim na pagtitiwala ng mga mamamayang Pilipino."

Coloma urges everyone to let the process take its course.

“We note that these judicial processes shall be carried out by the Ombudsman, an independent Constitutional body, and the Sandiganbayan that belongs to an independent and co-equal branch of the executive. Let the rule of law take its course. "

Coloma added the filing of charges only emboldened popular outcry against the pork barrel scam.

"Kapansin-pansin na simula nang ipahayag ng Tanggapan ng Ombudsman ang pagsasampa ng kaso sa Sandiganbayan ay lumalakas na muli ang tinig ng mga mamamayan na nagpapahayag ng kanilang mariing pagtuligsa at paglaban sa mga pwersang nagsamantala sa maling paggamit ng pondo ng bayan. At umaasa tayo na ang malakas na tinig ng mga mamamayan ay maririnig at ito ang pinaka-epektibong panlaban sa panlilinlang at sa paghahasik ng kasinungalingan."

Coloma is not worried that any attempts to portray the 3 as underdogs may backfire on the government.

"Matalino at mapagnilay ang ating mga mamamayan. People are intelligent and discerning to be able to separate the chaff from the grain and to be able to separate truth from lies."

Coloma parried off anew questions on whether the administration is being selective in its prosecution of the pork barrel scam cases.
So far, cases filed are only in connection with organizations linked to Napoles. The Commission on Audit earlier identified some 82 NGOs with questionable pork barrel transactions.

Coloma said, "Ang batid po natin ay patuloy ang pagsisiyasat ng Department of Justice at iba pang ahensya ng ating pamahalaan na bahagi ng kanilang case buildup na ang layunin ay mapalitaw ang katotohanan at magawaran po ng katarungan 'yung diumano'y maling paggamit ng pondo ng bayan. Siguro po pansinin din natin 'yung filing of the graft cases by the Ombudsman dahil ito ay separate and independent initiative po nila ito.”

He said it’s not only the Executive branch, through the Department of Justice, that acted on the cases.

“Pansinin po natin na mismong 'yung Tanggapan na ng Ombudsman ang tuwirang nagharap ng usapin sa Sandiganbayan, at itong kanilang binanggit ay for violation of Section 3-E of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. So meron na pong mga parallel action na isinasagawa bukod sa isinasagawa ng ehekutibo at 'yon na nga po 'yung resulta ng isinagawang imbestigasyon ng Office of the Ombudsman."

Coloma also doesn't see anything wrong with the impending issuance of notices of disallowance by the COA for other lawmakers linked to the scam.

A notice of disallowance is issued when a transaction is illegal.

"Maaari naman pong maganap 'yon dahil ang COA ay hiwalay at independiyenteng tanggapan, constitutional office that can pursue initiatives such as those, and they don't have to ask the permission of the Executive. So hindi naman po kataka-taka 'yung pangyayaring 'yon. Siguro ang gusto lamang mapunto ay kapag inihambing 'yung mga datos at nagkataong pare-pareho naman, mas mainam na i-consolidate na lang 'yung mga 'yon, ano. At ginagawa-sa aking mga natunghayan, ginagawa rin 'yan ng hukuman, ano. Kapag mayroong mga iba't ibang aksyon na inihain sa kanila, they can also consolidate those cases.”