Binay: File cases against all involved in PDAF scam

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

CASES against government officials allegedly involved in the corruption of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) should not stop with those who are not allied with the administration, Vice President Jejomar Binay said Wednesday.

Reacting to the Office of the Ombudsman's decision to press plunder and graft charges against his allies Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, Binay said cases should also be filed against other officials mentioned in the 2013 Commission on Audit (COA) report on PDAF misuse, which includes allies of President Benigno Aquino III like Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. and former Cibac party-list representative and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) chief Joel Villanueva.

"If it stops with the filing of the plunder cases against three senators who are not political allies and confines itself to the (Janet) Napoles case, it will create the impression of being selective, and that political partisanship – not justice – is the sole motivation behind these charges," he said.

Only former Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, who was part of Aquino's senatorial ticket in 2010, is facing malversation and graft complaints before the Ombudsman for pocketing nearly P2 million from his PDAF when he was congressman of Muntinlupa City in 2007.

The Ombudsman has yet to resolve the charges.

Binay said the impending filing of cases before the Sandiganbayan is a test of the "fairness and trustworthiness" of the country's legal system as he expressed confidence that the court will accord the three senators their right to a fair trial.

Senate President Franklin Drilon meanwhile has left to the conscience of the implicated senators whether to go on leave in the event of a full-blown trial, adding the situation would definitely change if the
Sandiganbayan orders their arrest and suspension from the Senate.

"Since this (plunder) is a non-bailable offense, they will be under detention by the Sandiganbayan and they will be ordered suspended from the Senate by the Sandiganbayan," he said in a television interview on Tuesday.

Enrile, Estrada and Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. have consistently denied accusations that they got millions of pesos for parting their PDAF allocation with Napoles, a businesswoman who supposedly put up fake non-government organizations (NGOs) to implement ghost projects funded by pork barrel of legislators.

Estrada is currently in the United States while Revilla is with his family in Israel for a holy pilgrimage.

Revilla vowed to return to the Philippines in two weeks. (Sunnex)

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