Now that Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla is in detention and the Sandiganbayan is readying arrest warrants for his colleagues Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, the government must start investigating other personalities involved in the pork barrel scam, including allies of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, a lawmaker and a youth group said on Saturday.
The League of Filipino Students (LFS) demanded the immediate prosecution of all officials linked to the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), while the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) party said it will continue to press for the investigation of the people identified with the President who have also been implicated in the scam.
“Bong is not enough! Three senators are not enough! Pork barrel king Aquino and his cohorts must also go,” LFS national spokesman Charlotte Velasco said. “This is a sabotage of justice. No one should go scot-free.”
Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who is Lakas-CMD president, said his group will not stop calling for the investigation and indictment of all people implicated in the scam.
At least three Cabinet members are linked to the pork barrel scandal—Secretaries Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management and Proceso Alcala of the Department of Agriculture, and Director-General Joel Villanueva of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
“We will not intervene with the trial in any way, but we will dig deeper into the scam and continue pressing this administration for the same probe of all personalities being linked to the fraud. There should be no political color and the President’s allies should be included,” Romualdez said.
“To this day, no legal action has been taken by anybody against any of them. We find this grossly unfair at the very least and selective justice at its worst. We definitely won’t take this sitting down,” he said.
Romualdez warned that his political allies will continue the clamor for the prosecution of everyone involved in the scam.
He also called on the people to wait for the verdict of the Sandiganbayan, noting that although Revilla surrendered on Friday, his guilt has yet to be proven.
“Just because he is at the PNP Custodial Center does not mean that Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. is already guilty of plunder. From now on, people should only listen to the court regarding anything about the case,” Romualdez said in a statement.
Revilla is chairman of Lakas-CMD.
Velasco condemned the Aquino government’s application of selective justice, noting that while the Department of Justice rushed the filing of criminal charges against the three senators, the President continues to coddle his allies. Abad, Alcala and Villanueva were implicated to the pork scam by Janet Lim Napoles.
“The public has already unraveled the lies of Aquino’s manipulation and cover-up.
This, along with the protection he’s been persistently giving Butch Abad, Proceso Alcala, and all of his allies proved that he is trying to conceal the fact that he is indeed the Pork Barrel King,” Velasco said.
The group blasted Malacanang for defending the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) whose legality has been questioned at the Supreme Court. The Manila Times last week reported that majority of Supreme Court justices voted to declare DAP unconstitutional.
“It is clear that Aquino will never be serious in fighting against corruption,” Velasco said.
Malacañang also on Saturday assured Revilla and all those charged in connection with the pork scam of a fair trial.
“As the Sandiganbayan prepares to undertake its mandated task, we ask all Filipinos to reflect that accountability is built into our institutions. And that just as no Filipino is above the law, all Filipinos are accorded constitutional rights, to be respected within a system of justice and fairness that will accomplish the ultimate goal of finding out the truth,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview.
Challenge to youth
But for Leon Flores 3rd, the former chairman of the National Youth Commission, the indictment of the three senators proves that public servants are accountable to the people.
He said Revilla’s surrender and the expected arrest of Enrile and Estrada should challenge the youth to become better leaders.
Flores is also a co-founder of the ANGKOP–a movement that seeks to train young people in politics.
“It is time to surface fresh and young faces in Philippine politics and replace the Napo-list of corrupt politicians with accountable and outstanding reform champions,” he said.
With Robertzon F. Ramirez