Press Release
September 30, 2013

But warns it is ploy to distract

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, while seeking a COA probe into the alleged bribery of Congress members during the impeachment trial of ex-Chief Justice Renato Corona, warned that the bribery scam should not distract the public from the Napoles NGO pork scam.

"Both scams are equally repulsive. But the alleged bribery scam is intended by the political opposition to cover up the Napoles NGO pork scam," she said.

"At the heart of both scams is then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. He is charged with plunder because he gave phoney Napoles NGOs some P400 million. Now he is trying to hide behind the expose of the alleged bribery scam. Unfortunately, he is still the arch villain, because he alleged received P100 million as a bribe, while others received only P50 million," she said.

According to budget secretary Florencio Abad, additional pork under the so-called DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) were released reportedly during and after the impeachment trial, and those who received P100 million each were Enrile, Sen. Franklin Drilon, and Sen. Francis Escudero.

The three senators did not explain why they got more than the others, but merely defended themselves with the excuse that they spent the money on public projects. By contrast, each representative allegedly received P15 million.

Those who were not given any additional pork from the DAP were Santiago, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, and Sen. Joker Arroyo, the three senators who voted against impeachment.

Santiago, a former RTC judge and a constitutional law expert, said that the DAP releases during and just after the impeachment trial constituted bribery under the Penal Code.

She quoted Article 210: "Direct Bribery. - Any public officer who shall agree to perform an act constituting a crime, in connection with the performance of his official duties, in consideration of any offer, promise, gift, or present received by such officer."

Santiago said that every senator who voted to convict, and every representative who voted to indict, if each one is shown to have received additional pork during and immediately after the impeachment trial, are presumably guilty of bribery, because of the close timing between the two events.

She said that under the Penal Code, each senator or representative was guilty of the crime of "knowingly rendering unjust judgment."

She quoted Article 204: "Any judge who shall knowingly render an unjust judgment in any case submitted to him for decision, shall be punished by prision mayor, and perpetual absolute disqualification."

DAP Releases Unconstitutional?

Santiago said she will encourage Supreme Court litigation on the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), because it violates the equal protection clause which is the keystone of all human rights.

"I would like to know in particular if it is legal for the budget department to discriminate among senators. While all other senators received an average of P50 million, reportedly three senators got P100 million each. They are Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Franklin Drilon, and Sen. Francis Escudero," Santiago said.

Santiago, a constitutional law expert, said that the DAP, which was introduced in 2011 to "ramp up spending and help accelerate economic expansion," appears to have been disbursed in violation of the Constitution's equal protection clause.

Santiago, who has a law doctorate and was a former UP law professor, said that old SC decisions on equal protection were based on the rational relationship test, which is now obsolete. Instead, she said, equal protection cases are now based on the strict scrutiny test.

"In releasing funds, the executive branch cannot play favorites when carrying out constitutional commands such as social justice, social services, and equal work opportunities. The DAP releases, flawed as they were from the very beginning, played favorites among senators. That was clearly unconstitutional," she said.

Santiago said that after the scandalous but secret releases at the end of 2012, then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile followed the example of favouritism by giving all senators, except four, nearly P2 million in Christmas bonuses.

Enrile particularly excluded from his Christmas bonus his political enemies, namely, Santiago, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Pia Cayetano, and Sen. Antonio Trillanes.

As a result, Santiago requested COA Chair Grace Pulido Tan for a COA probe on the scandalous Christmas bonuses.

The Santiago letter led to the early release of the COA special audit report, leading to the exposure of the fake NGOs under Janet Napoles

Named as leading those who were complicit with the Napoles pork barrel scam were Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Bong Revilla, and Sen. Gregorio Honasan.

Enrile defended himself by saying he used his discretionary funds for the Christmas bonuses, but Santiago countered that under the Constitution, the senate president's discretionary funds shall be disbursed for public purposes only.

"The best hope for an impartial adjudication of these abominable abuses of public funds is the Supreme Court. I will initiate a crowd-sourced petition in social media, so that young, idealistic lawyers can raise the proper issues in the high court. I cannot obtain relief from the Senate itself, which now appears to have been complicit in bribery," she said.

Santiago said she was "heartbroken" over the post-impeachment fund releases.

"This is so far from daang matuwid! Please, Pres. Aquino and Sec. Abad, tell me it's not true," she said in a statement.

"When Greek mythology discovered the stinking Aegean stables, it never anticipated the fetid and putrid pork barrel stables of corrupt Philippine politics," she said.

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