MANILA — Lawyer Harry Roque raises doubts on the integrity of the members of the Office of the Ombudsman’s special prosecution panel assigned to handle the cases related to the pork barrel scam.
In an interview with dzMM, Roque, a professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law is opposing acting Director Danilo Lopez and Deputy Special Prosecutor John Turalba’s appointment in the government’s prosecution panel.
Turalba heads the main prosecution panel, while Lopez was assigned to lead the panel handling Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s cases.
Roque said the two lawyers do not seem to have a clean slate.
He cited an event when Lopez withdrew the case of the overpriced lamp post in Cebu’s preparation for the 2006 Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.
Claimants were insisting that the lam posts were 10 times overpriced but Roque said Lopez asked the case to be dismissed due to lack of evidence.
“Nadiskubre ko, itong si Prosecutor Lopez na siyang tumatayong chairman ng special prosecution team ay siya palang nagpa-dismiss nung P300 million na graft case kaugnay ng mga lamp post doon sa Cebu,” he said.
[I found out that Prosecutor Lopez, who chairs the special prosecution team is also the one who asked for the dismissal of the P300 million graft case related to the lamp post in Cebu.]
“Nag-aalalangan lang ako ngayon na kung bakit despite merong ganitong record eh siya pa ang ginawa ngayong head ng panel para dito sa pinaka-high profile case laban sa mga senador,” Roque said.
[I have my inhibitions on why despite his records, he was still chosen to head the panel of this very high-profile case against the senators.]
Meanwhile, Turalba was reported to have handled the graft and illegal disposition of firearms against Philippine National Police (PNP) official Reynaldo Varilla for the diversion of 72 sub-machine guns, a case which was also terminated in 2007.
“Ang sa akin lang, wala na bang iba? Nais naman nating magkaroon ng example ‘yung publiko na kapag ikaw ay nagnakaw, ikaw ay makukulong,” Roque said.
[What I’m pointing out is, is there no one out there anymore? We want to give an example to the public that once you have stolen anything, you’ll get jailed.]
“Explore natin kung pwedeng kumuha ng mga abogado ang Ombudsman, kung pwedeng magtalaga ng ibang abogado na galing sa gobyerno mismo … nang masiguro naman natin na patas naman ang laban,” Roque added.
[Let’s explore if the Ombudsman could still get lawyers, if they can appoint lawyers from the government… so that we can ensure a fair fight.]
With reports from Philippine Star