Napoles, Enrile, Revilla, Estrada and 2 others charged with plunder
After weeks of public speculations and rumor-mongerings, the DOJ led by Sec. Leila de Lima filed cases with the Ombudsman Monday as she promised earlier. Among those charged with plunder are Sen. Juan Ponce- Enrile, Sen. Bong Revilla, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Mrs. Janet Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the widely-criticized pork barrel scam. Also presented during the filing of cases were staggering volumes of evidences purportedly relevant to the corruption charges, accumulated by DOJ and NBI investigators with the aid of the whistle blowers, representing the extent of paper trails and evidences spanning almost a decade. While most Filipinos remains virtually clueless as to who shall bite the dust first, the development of the controversy as it unfolds recently had, more or less, created an impression of certainty that the three senators, Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, will be the first to face the gallows, so to speak.
Along with Napoles and the senators, DOJ also filed plunder cases against former representative and now Masbate governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete, and former representative Edgar Valdez of APEC Party-list.
Revilla was teary-eyed, Estrada remains defiant while Enrile opted to stay in a hospital due to health issues. The three senators’ different reactions drew flaks from netizens as soon as news of filed charges hit the social media, with that of Revilla’s and especially Enrile’s getting the most sarcastic, even amusing condemnations.
Revilla almost come to tears while addressing reporters inside the session hall of the Senate. He appealed to everyone not to prejudge him on the corruption charges. However, most netizens didn’t buy his act and was described by many as ‘dramatic’ in reference to his being an actor.
Enrile was taken to the hospital a few days ago due to high blood pressure. This, however, does not spare him from being heckled online with most criticism alluding to ‘the wheelchair way out’, reminiscent of former President Gloria Arroyo and Chief Justice Renato Corona’s similar theatrics.
Meanwhile Jinggoy Estrada maintained his opinion that he cannot be charged with plunder because endorsement of (bogus) NGO is not a crime – an assumption he has yet to prove in court.
All of three senators however reiterated once more their innocence in the allegations of their misuse of public funds against them and has vowed to fight and face everything.
33 others faces malversation, direct bribery and other graft and corrupt practices
Included in the charge sheet also were 3 former congressman, 8 staffs/chief o f staffs, 5 heads of implementing agencies, 6 presidents of Napoles bogus NGOs, 10 officials and/or employees of involved agencies.
In an Executive Summary published on a government website (http://www.gov.ph) regarding the complaint, these thirty-three (33) persons named will be facing charges of malversation, direct bribery and other graft and corrupt practices.
Sec. De Lima explained in a press conference that the amount (kickbacks or commission from the scam) involved for which these individuals are being charged with did not cross 50 Million Pesos, the threshold amount for plunder, and thus cannot be charged for the same.
At the onset of this scandal, there were 5 senators named to have connived with Janet Napoles and her bogus NGOs in pocketing huge amount of taxpayer’s money. Besides the three mentioned above, Sen. Bongbong Marcos and Sen. Gringo Honasan were also alleged to have allowed Napoles et.al access into their PDAF at least once. Many people are now wondering why these two were not included in the first salvo of plunder charges.
Also, Sen. Loren Legarda was included in one COA report (2011 – 2012) with Sen. Marcos again as two senators who had released part of their PDAF to a Napoles NGO in a project in Dinalupihan, Bataan.
At one time, even Sen. Tito Sotto and Sen. Lito Lapid were reported to have allocated millions of pesos from their pork barrel to purchase ‘deodorizers’ for some municipalities in Rizal and Quezon, though the conduit were said to be of another agency, not of Napoles’.
Sec. Leila de Lima affirmed that her department is also set to file new corruption charges related to Malampaya fund next week, and the second batch for pork barrel scam the week thereafter.
The public is becoming increasingly hopeful due to the recent turn of event. The mystery and the suspense as to who will be implicated next should make this exercise worth our vigilance and concern.
The die is cast. Let the quest for the truth and justice begin.
Meanwhile, let us brace ourselves for more of the same is to come.