• Parliamentary immunity can’t protect lawmakers in pork mess: congressman

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    Parliamentary immunity won’t cover the lawmakers who will be charged in connection with the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scandal, a party-list lawmaker said Wednesday.

    1-BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello, a former Justice secretary, said parliamentary immunity “can only be invoked if the penalty for the crime is prision correcional or six years and below. In this [PDAF] case, this is plunder so they will not be covered.”

    Bello made the comment a day after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced that her department will soon charge lawmakers implicated in the controversy.

    Parliamentary immunity protects legislators from being charged in court.

    A public official can be charged with plunder if he acquires ill-gotten wealth of at least P50 million.

    Plunder is a non-bailable offense.

    “We could see each other in the Veterans Hospital,” Bello added in jest, referring to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who has been under hospital detention in Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City since February 2012 on plunder charges.

    Bello, who was in the Arroyo Cabinet, is now allied with the United Nationalist Alliance led by staunch Arroyo critic, Vice President Jejomar Binay.

    LLANESCA T. PANTI

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