Editorial: Relief, not elation

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

RECENT developments in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) controversy do give us the impression that the judicial process is finally moving.

The Office of the Ombudsman is winding down its study of the plunder and other graft-related raps filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in relation to the P10 billion PDAF scam.

It announced last Tuesday that it has found probable cause to file with the Sandiganbayan plunder cases against Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. Also included in the plunder raps are Napoles and officials of government and non-government organizations.


That’s a shorter list of respondents in the plunder cases than the one in the NBI complaint. Those who are out of the list, though, will still be included in graft charges the Ombudsman will file against other personalities linked to the scam.

The Ombudsman announcement was made some two hours after the Senate blue ribbon committee, through Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, told reporters that the body has recommended the filing of plunder charges against the three senators and Napoles. The committee had conducted a parallel probe into the PDAF scam.

But public reception of the two announcements have not been upbeat as expected but is more like the feeling of someone seeing her date arrive after hours of being late. It’s more of relief than elation.

And even that relief has been doused with cold water by the realization that our judicial system provides the accused with many remedies—or call it delaying moves—before the cases could be lodged with the Sandiganbayan or before the anti-graft court could act on these cases and issue warrants of arrest.

This means, in the PDAF scam, more weeks or months of waiting for the Filipino taxpayers who are monitoring the progress of the case.

This is part of due process, of course, although the slow rolling of the judicial wheel in this country has made more effective the use of “due process” measures by respondents, especially the moneyed big fishes, to stall the movement of their cases.

With the courts, including the High Tribunal, swamped with cases, the resolution of every motion takes weeks, even months. The waiting is tiring for those seeking justice—-and is fodder for the thinking that our judicial system is wretched.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 03, 2014.


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