Too early to call victory in pork scam case: critics

Posted at 06/21/2014 4:31 PM | Updated as of 06/22/2014 11:50 AM

MANILA - Critics believe it is still too early to call a victory for the cause of the people in the pork barrel scam controversy.

Speaking to ANC's "Dateline Philippines" on Saturday, Bayan Muna secretary general Renato Reyes said despite the detention of Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., the public should remain vigilant on how the cases will progress in the Sandiganbayan.

Revilla, as well as his colleagues Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile, are facing plunder and graft charges before the anti-graft court over their alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

According to Reyes, the public should pressure government to file more cases against those involved in the anomaly regardless of their political affiliations.

"It remains to be seen how the Sandiganbayan will act on the cases, what kind of concessions they are willing to give. It also remains to be seen how the cases will be tried as we move closer to the 2016 elections and the administration tries to put on more pressure on its rivals," he said.

"That's why it's necessary for the people to be vigilant and mindful of what maneuvers both the accused and the administration could be taking," he added.

Scrap Pork Network spokesperson Michelle Estor also told ANC the public should continue to demand accountability on the issue.

"Now is the time when we will see the strength of the cases that have been filed. So really, we have to be mindful of what we define as victory because not even conviction can be deemed a victory when after conviction you have people being pardoned."

"The victory to me and to the Scrap Pork Network is really the eradication of the pork barrel system," she said.

If the filing of charges stop with the three opposition senators, Reyes said it will only prove that the pork barrel scam is merely a political weapon of the administration.

"There are still others out there who need to be investigated, need to be charged. We're talking about people who are members of the Cabinet of the Aquino administration, political allies in the Liberal Party," he said.

The three Cabinet officials who have been linked to the pork scam so far are Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Joel Villanueva.

"What happens to them after the arrest of Senators Revilla, Estrada, Enrile?" Reyes said. -- Report from ANC