Should those tagged in pork scam be barred from leaving PH?
MANILA -- Lawmakers and their staff members who have been tagged in the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam should not be allowed to leave the Philippines while investigation on the case is still ongoing.
This was the general sentiment of Filipino netizens on Friday, following reports that the former chief of staff of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile has already left the country.
Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Gonzales Reyes left Manila last August 31 via a Cebu Pacific flight bound for Macau. The Bureau of Immigration said she was supposed to return to the Philippines last September 3 but did not come back.
Reyes is the former chief of staff of Enrile, one of the senators implicated in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) anomaly involving businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Reyes left the Philippines two days after the Philippine Daily Inquirer released a story quoting a witness who claimed to have personally delivered PDAF money to Reyes.
Some staff members of other senators tagged in the pork scam, meanwhile, have already taken a leave of absence.
They include Richard Cambe, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.'s chief political officer; Pauline Labayen and Rene Dinglasan, Jinggoy Estrada's deputy chief of staff and political adviser, respectively; and Jose Antonio Evangelista, Enrile's deputy chief of staff.
They allegedly served as conduits for transferring the PDAF of the senators to fake non-government organizations (NGOs) supposedly set up by Napoles.
The lawmakers and their staff members allegedly got cash from Napoles as part of their cut in the anomalous deal, according to key whistleblower Benhur Luy.
"TV Patrol" on Friday asked the question: "Dapat bang pagbawalan umalis ng bansa ang mga umano'y sangkot sa 'pork scam'?"
On both Twitter and Facebook, the dominant answer from netizens was yes, with some even saying that flight is an indication of guilt.
Pag umalis yang mga taong sangkot sa PDAF scam, it means umiiwas sila sa batas. Kung malinis konsensiya nila, dapat humarap sila #TVPatrol
— ★KD_Breakfree ★ (@OKC_Breakfree) September 13, 2013
@TVPatrol those who are planning to leave the country only prove their guilt. we cant take jurisdiction there, so feel nila safe na cla don
— Sophia Enchong (@SophiaEnchong) September 13, 2013
Huwag payagan umalis ang mga sangkot sa PDAF scam dahil maaring makagawa sila ng paraan para mawala ang ebidensya laban sa kanila. #TVPatrol
— Nonie Suarez (@NonieSuarez) September 13, 2013
"Dapat talagang pagbawalan sila umalis ng bansa. What if napatunayan talaga na sangkot sila sa Pork Scam, edi hindi nila mababayaran yung kasalanan na nagawa nila kasi wala tayong karapatan na arestuhin sila dahil nasa ibang bansa sila," Arianne Dagsindal posted on Facebook.
Kornikz Noval said, "Oo dapat lang talaga pagbawalan at linisin muna pangalan nila bago sila umalis... Mga kurakot lang din ang utak ng mga taong nagsasabing hindi pagbawalan."
Twitter user @ThetweetofAlvin also chimed in and said: "Wag palabasin, ang lumabas ng bansa guilty! Baka nga lang maraming magkasakit at ma-confine sa St. Luke's."
But for some netizens like Renyvee Larios (@abbeylarios), those tagged in the pork scam should still be allowed to leave the country.
"May kalayaan naman sila umalis," Facebook user Onlie You said.