Palace: Filing of charges vs 3 senators, others not rushed

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

MANILA - Malacañang denied on Saturday allegations that the filing of charges against the three senators allegedly involved in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam was rushed as President Benigno Aquino III prepares his State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Office of the Ombudsman was given enough time to review and to consider all the pieces of evidence that were submitted by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

"Buwan din po 'yung dumaan bago po nagkaroon ng resolusyon ang Ombudsman dito," she said in an interview over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan when asked on accusations that the filing of plunder charges against Senators Jinngoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile by the Office of the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan was hastily done in time for Aquino's Sona next month.

She said that the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent constitutional body from the executive branch.

"Hindi po kontrolado ng ehekutibo ang Office of the Ombudsman," Valte said.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed the plunder charges against the three senators and other co-accused in the P10-billion pork barrel scam on Friday after it junked the motions for reconsideration of the accused.

Valte said the filing of cases is a significant step to ferret out the truth with regard to the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf).

"This constitutes a major step forward in our mission to find out the truth about these anomalies," she said.

And in the midst of misinformation brought about by dishonesty and politicking, the administration remains firmly committed to unearthing the facts, Valte added.

At the same time, Valte noted that the administration will continue to push for reforms in government aimed at strengthening the foundations of transparency and accountability in the bureaucracy.

Asked if the Palace is prepared for any backlash from the followers of the three lawmakers, the Palace official said the government has enough measures to deal with such circumstances.

And if the court issues arrest warrants for the three senators being accused of plunder, the executive branch is ready to execute the court order, she said.

"The executive will be the one to be tasked to carry it out. So in that case, as in any high profile case that involves high profile personalities, gagawin lang po ng ating pamahalaan ang iuutos sa ng korte at kung ano lang ang nararapat," she said.

The Palace has not received any information about destabilization plots against the government, she said.

On the call of the Ombudsman to the Supreme Court to form two special divisions that will hear the pork barrel cases, Valte said it would be up to the high court.

"That is a matter that will be left up to the decision of the Supreme Court and hopefully, whatever their decision may be, it will help in making sure that the trial or the proceedings are conducted in a timely manner na wala pong masyadong delay," she said.

"Kung makakatulong po ito doon sa pagdinig 'nung--sa mabilis na pagdinig ng kaso, wala po tayong magiging problema dito." (SDR/Sunnex)

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