— Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. Aranal Sereno said on Thursday that there are legal maps such as the Constitution, Laws and Rules of Court to triumph over graft and corruption.
In her speech during the 116th Philippine Independence Day celebration at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite, Sereno said that the Constitution, and the appropriate laws in auditing public funds, investigation into allegations of corruption and prosecution of the accused are vested upon the duties and authority of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit (COA).
She also cited that there is the Anti-Money Laundering Law and the law to recover ill-gotten wealth which can be used to return to government coffers any stolen money.
Sereno said that in fact, the Anti-Money Laundering Law was used to freeze the assets of Mrs. Janet Lim Napoles.
Napoles is the alleged “brains” behind the P10-billion pork barrel and the P900-million Malampaya Fund scams.
Sereno added that in Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, there is the set of guidelines in determining an accused as a state witness.
In Rule 130 of the Rules of Evidence, Sereno said, there is also a set of guidelines to weigh whether the proliferating lists have probative values or merely “hearsays” which are weightless in the eyes of the court.
She noted that the basis of the court in convicting an accused in a crime such as plunder or corruption is “proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
Sereno said that this is not lost in the minds of the prosecutors and the Ombudsman in their investigation and filing of case, hence, the gathering of evidence should be stringent.
She added that to correct a corrupt practice, it is necessary that the institutions such as the COA, Ombudsman, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the courts should be diligent in the performance of their duty to investigate, prosecute and convict all guilty law violators.
Sereno noted that it is proper that Filipinos should be vigilant to make sure that everyone should be held liable whatever is their political color.
She said that it is also right that Filipinos should be perseverant so that the auditors, investigators, prosecutors, Ombudsman, and the judges are dedicated in their duties.
However, she stressed that the legal proceeding should not be done without due process, instead, let the Constitution and the law take its course.
Sereno pointed out that “shortcuts” should be avoided so that all the actions taken so far will not be to no avail, but rather, lead to success.
In this way, she said, the “Rule of Law” will prevail in resolving the deep-rooted problems of the society and government.
Because of this, Sereno added, it will then be proven that democracy in the country is alive and firm.