PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd wants nothing less than the conviction of all suspects, including lawmakers, who are involved in the P10 billion pork barrel scam case, stressing that the success of his administration’s anti-corruption efforts will hinge on having the guilty punished for their crimes.
In an interview over Radyo Bombo, Aquino said the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman continue to work closely to make sure that the Sandiganbayan will mete out a guilty verdict against the respondents, who include Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
“The success of our anti-corruption efforts will not be based on just filing the case but by jailing them. That they are sentenced by the court and sent to jail. That is the basis of whether we are successful or not and we want to make sure that that will happen,” the President said in Filipino.
He added that the DOJ and the Ombudsman have been very careful in filing the appropriate charges that are backed by solid evidence.
“It is our obligation to file, to help in filing cases that will stand in court. If you will file a case with weak evidence, the person that you want prosecuted because you are convinced that he had done wrong, may be acquitted. If your evidence is weak and he is freed, you cannot do it again,” Aquino explained.
Enrile, Estrada and Revilla are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City while alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is detained in another facility.
The four, including their subordinates who are their co-respondents in the string of plunder, graft and malversation complaints filed in connection with the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, were ordered arrested last month. The lawmakers were also subsequently suspended from their posts.
The President said he is convinced that the cases against the pork suspects are strong, adding that punishment for those who will be found guilty is part of his commitment to the people.
“If we filed shallow cases left and right and these cases meant nothing and eventually dismissed, I think the people will be mad and grow suspicious that we intended to acquit those responsible,” he also explained.
“Now, the first three cases that were filed, we believe those have the strongest evidence because [the acts]happened repeatedly. It cannot be said that there was a mistake because it was done habitually,” Aquino pointed out.