MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago asserted that senators who voted to oust former Chief Justice Renato Corona and those who have received extra pork barrel funds during and after the impeachment case are guilty of bribery.

Santiago pointed that the release of the funds is considered as a ‘bribe’ judging on the connection of the events. She expressed her disappointment because of the controversial allocation and emphasized that the senators who received the amounts are guilty of the offense of “knowingly rendering unjust judgment under the Penal Code.”

Santiago even cited Article 210: “Direct Bribery. – Any public officer who shall agree to perform an act constituting a crime, in connection with the performance of his official duties, in consideration of any offer, promise, gift, or present received by such officer.”

Moreover, she mentioned Article 204, stating that “Any judge, who shall knowingly render an unjust judgment in any case submitted to him for decision, shall be punished by prison mayor, and perpetual absolute disqualification.”

“The DAP releases flawed as they were from the very beginning, played favorites among senators. That was clearly unconstitutional,” Miriam disclosed.

Santiago now calls for Commission on Audit (COA) to investigate whether the pork barrel fund or in this case, the DAP, was used as bribe to impeach Corona.

Misleading the ‘pork’ issue

Though the clatter on the alleged ‘bribery’ on Corona’s impeachment has been on for a few days now, Santiago said that we should still focus on the P10 billion pork barrel scam that involves the businesswoman, Janet Lim Napoles.

“Both scams are equally repulsive. But the alleged bribery scam is intended by the political opposition to cover up the Napoles’ NGO pork scam,” Santiago stated.

Senators admit

After Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada’s blast in his privilege speech last week, exposing the allotment made by the Department of Budget and Management after the ousting of Corona, more legislators revealed that they have received over P50 million additional funds as of August 2012 and February 2013.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad admitted that they have handed over P2 billion under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to 20 senators who indicted Corona in his impeachment.

However, Senators Santiago, Bongbong Marcos and Joker Arroyo did not receive the additional funds since they voted to acquit Corona.

Three senators, Juan Ponce Enrile, Franklin Drilon and Francis Escudero, got P100 million each while other legislators received P50 million each.

Though DBM announced that the funds came from DAP, Senators Ralph Recto and Serge Osmeña said they are not aware that the funds they have received came from DAP.

On the other hand, Recto revealed that he had just complied with the directives of DBM.

“We were requested to submit a list after, long after the impeachment, more or less August,” Recto stated.

“Whatever is requested of us when we are asked to submit a request we comply. That’s basically it,” Recto he added.

He said that it was only this time that he was able to know about DAP.

Clear it out

The Palace made it clear that Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was intended to expand the country’s economy and not to be used as a ‘bribe’.

“DAP is not equal to or more PDAF. It is not. This amount goes to implementing agencies. The funds do not go to the lawmakers,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda declared on Monday.

Lacierda stated that DAP is for the government agencies and not for lawmakers.

For the meantime, the DBM holds the said fund as well as the PDAF.

Written by:

Raniza K. Darole
ABCom, Leyte Normal University