Miriam to Ombudsman: Don't delay pork probe due to diarrhea
MANILA -- Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Tuesday said the Ombudsman should not grant any motion for postponement of the preliminary investigation of plunder complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against 38 individuals on the ground of "the almighty diarrhea."
"When I was RTC judge of Quezon City, I discovered that the country suffers from pandemic diarrhea. That is the most common ground for postponement sought by lawyers, the parties, and their witnesses. No postponement should be granted in the name of the almighty diarrhea," Santiago said in a statement.
In a series of radio interviews on Tuesday, she said the Ommbudsman can speed up the preliminary investigation by prohibiting "delay tactics" such as the motion to dismiss, motion for bill of particulars, or motion for more definite statement of crimes.
She also proposed that the Ombudsman devote all its resources to the plunder cases to the exclusion of other pending cases due to the "acute public interest" in the pork barrel scam, which she had described as "the most bloodcurdling crime in Philippine political history."
Meanwhile, Santiago said the Senate as an institution should be distinguished from individual senators -- Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada -- who have been charged with plunder.
"The Senate is a hallowed institution; it remains sentient but impervious to the alleged misbehaviour of a few senators. It is not the case that 24 senators equals the Senate. Hence, I do not fear for the future of the Senate, because I consider this scandal as a catharsis," she said.
She said the public should also follow the example of Jose Rizal in his novel Noli Me Tangere, where Rizal advocated that people with terminal diseases should be exposed on the steps of the church, so that the public could examine the illness and maybe prescribe the right treatment.
"I respectfully disagree with some senators who think that we should behave like the three monkeys - see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing. On the contrary, I believe in the free market of ideas. Let us expose what ails us, so that the public will see the Senate is capable of healing itself."
"If we refuse to talk about the pork scam, people might suspect that we are adopting a fortress mentality and building walls against the rest of the country, or that we are circling our wagons against public opinion. Instead, we should demand justice for both the accusers and the accused," she said.
The senator also countered fears that the plunder cases will take at least five years to be finally decided by the court.
"If our judges are lackadaisical and allow such a gross delay, the public, in line with the temper of the times, will definitely howl in protest and possibly seek extra-legal remedies, meaning remedies outside the legal system. I don't know if our judicial system is ready to take that risk," Santiago said.