MANILA–Some senators on Monday lamented the acquittal of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles by the Court of Appeals (CA), hopeful that she would not get away with plunder charges filed against her.
Napoles was acquitted from illegal detention charges filed against her by whistle-blower Benhur Luy. However, would remain in detention for plunder charges in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam.
“I’m hoping that the bigger case, she will not get away with it. Because I think the PDAF (priority development assistance fund) case is one of the most controversial case to have ever hound the Philippine senate,” Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said in an interview.
He was hopeful that similar pork barrel cases would no longer happen in the future.
“PDAF is a taxpayers money so therefore she has to pay for it so that there will be no more occurrence of such crimes or scams in the future,” he added.
Neophyte Sen. Risa Hontiveros meanwhile said that Napoles’ acquittal “undermined” the credibility of Luy as a state witness noting that it was his testimony that kept her and the accused high-profile public officials in jail.
She further said that this could also mean that there was a chance public officials charged with plunder could be released.
“This sets into motion the possible release from prison of all those responsible for plundering the nation’s coffers. This is truly a sad day for all those pushing for justice and accountability,” she said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said that there was a chance that the decision was not final.
“That’s not final yet. Although kung acquittal, I don’t know. Kung na-acquit ng lower court meron tayong tinatawag na double jeopardy. Di ako sigurado kung acquittal ng CA di na pwede iakyat sa SC kasi acquittal,” Lacson said.
(“That’s not final yet. Although if it’s acquittal, I don’t know. If she was acquitted by the lower court, we have what you call double jeopardy. I’m not sure if the acquittal of the CA could no longer be brought to the Supreme Court.”)
He, however, described the situation as “interesting times” especially because the goal of the current administration was to pin down other legislators not included in the charge sheets.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said that Napoles may be consider to be the government witness in connection with the planned review of pork barrel.
He further said that the ongoing review of the pork barrel scam ordered by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte was meant to find out who else should be held accountable.