MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Franklin Drilon assured the public yesterday that those who are proven to have misused the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) must be prosecuted with the full force of the law regardless of their rank and position in the government.
“There will be no selective justice in the government’s action against lawmakers who misused their pork barrel funds,” Drilon said.
As former Justice Secretary, Drilon said this issue of corruption has already been politicized. However, he appeals to just concentrate on the policy of prosecution and orderly administration of justice.
“We must all work toward prosecution of those who are found involved in the misuse of PDAF. If there is evidence enough to convict an accused lawmaker, be it a congressman or a senator, let’s jail him. Likewise, those innocent should be acquitted,” Drilon said.
He also stated that the priority now is to prosecute those involved and should be held accountable for their actions.
“Ensuring that justice is upheld will always be the priority of this administration and that is the reason why we are now working towards holding accountable those who have taken advantage of the loopholes in the system,” he said.
Moreover, the senate president said there is a functioning justice system that will clear the innocent and punish the guilty, pointing out that the country has enough laws to penalize erring and corrupt government officials.
“We will guarantee that the truth will come out and that those who will be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt will be punished, jailed, and impeached,” Drilon said.
“This Senate investigation will be relentless in searching for the truth. I consider the Pork Barrel Scam as a great injustice to the Filipino people,” he added.
Subpoena for Napoles not yet signed
After Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda acceded to the demand of his colleagues to sign the subpoena on Janet Lim-Napoles in a privilege speech last Wednesday, members of the media were left in the dark whether or not Drilon did sign the document as no copy of a signed subpoena was presented.
Drilon said that his decision to defer to sign the subpoena gave the members of the opposition a reason to malign him as well as the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III.
He said that he always believed in the “paramount pursuit of justice” and stressed that he had “never been a part of any cover up”.
However, the Senate President emphasized that with this decision, the senate will remain committed to the orderly administration of justice.
He further said that his earlier decision to adhere to the Ombudsman’s opinion not to summon Napoles was not at all a show of the Senate being bound to the Ombudsman but merely seeking their council.
“We are not bound. We seek their counsel. It is up to us (Senate) whether to adhere or ignore the (Ombudsman) advice,” Drilon said.
Princess Alexis B. Siguan
ABCOM/Leyte Normal University