CHICAGO (JGL) – Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo (LP-CS-3rd) said Wednesday (April 9) night (Thursday morning in Manila) that the charges of plunder and graft against senators and congressmen linked to the theft of P10-billion ($238-M) Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) will not remove the glamor off politics but will instead strengthen the democratic institutions in the Philippines.
In a phone interview with this reporter, Congresswoman Robredo said bringing charges of plunder and graft against senators and congressmen “ay mga importante para sa tuwid na daan.” (are important for straight path of governance).
The junior congresswoman and widow of the late charismatic Secretary Jesse Robredo of the Philippine Department of Interior and Local Government who died in a plane crash in 2012 said the charges “will be sending a very strong message to our countrymen na hindi namimili ang batas (law is not selective) and for a very long time, ang pakiramdam ng mga ordinaryong mga tao (ordinary people feel) na kung maliit ka, saka ka pinopursigue (if you are less in life, you are persecuted) at kung malaki kang tao (if you are influential), you are untouchable.”
A lawyer by profession, Mrs. Robredo said she is not prejudging the case but the charges filed against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla and others only go to show that nobody is above the law. “Itong ginagawa ngayon sa palagay ko ay makakatulong sa pagbabalik sa confidence ng taong bayan at ating gobyerno at justice system.” (The filing of charges I feel will help restore confidence of the people’s faith in their government and in the justice system.)
INVITED TO ATTEND THE BNAA CONVENTION
Congresswoman Robredo was interviewed in connection with the invitation extended to her by Evelyn R. Tolledo, president of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest (BUSAM), to be the principal guest of honor and speaker during the Registration and Breakfast on Saturday, July 26, 2014, ushering in the three-day national convention of the Bikol National Associations of America (BNAA), to be held at Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O’Hare hotel at 5550 N. River Road, in Chicago’s Rosemont, Illinois.
In accepting the invitation, Robredo thanked the organizers led by Tolledo, whose BUSAM is hosting the 2014 annual BNAA convention. She appealed to her fellow Bikolanos attending the July 25-27, 2014 convention “na maki sumaro sa mga kairiba tang Bikolano nan mas lalo mapapakusog an satuyang boses nan makatabang sa satuyang kababayan” (to unite with our fellow Bikolanos to have a stronger voice and to help our fellow men).
This reporter was introduced to Robredo by her friend, Carlos A. Cortes, former prosecutor of the Philippine Department of Justice, who immigrated to Chicago, and community organizer Marlon L. Pecson during a conference call.
Robredo believes Senators Estrada and Revilla will make good their word that they are returning to the Philippines after charges were filed against them by the Ombudsman. “Palagay ko babalik sila. Hindi naman sila papayagan ng gobyernong umalis kung hindi na sila babalik para harapin ang kaso. (I think they will come back. The government will not let them leave if they will not come back to answer the charges against them.)
“There is just too much at stake because they are sitting senators. Only yesterday, these senators brushed aside suggestions that they should resign.”
TAKING A LEAVE OF ABSENCE IS ETHICAL THING TO DO
She suggested, however, that it would have been “the ethical thing to do if these senators take their leaves of absence pending the resolution of their motion for reconsideration.”
Saying that she cannot speak for President Aquino, Robredo, herself a member of the ruling Liberal Party, believes that the President is going to keep his word that he will prosecute “everyone involved,” including members of the Liberal Party.
Robredo said if the senators and congressmen are eventually convicted, the convictions will strengthen the democratic institutions. She added, people asks, “Bakit sa ibang lugar kahit matataas na opisyal naco-convict.
Pero, sa atin hindi. Kung maco-convict lalakas uli ang paniniwala ng tao sa kanyang gobyerno dahil ang justice system ay hindi pumipili magiging symbol ng pagbabago marami na ang ma-wawarn, kasi kahit na sino pa sila kung gumawa sila ng kasalanan hindi sila palalagpasin ng justice system.” (The people are seething with a feeling asking why in other countries, ranking government officials can be convicted. But not in the Philippines. The conviction will restore the trust in the government because the justice system is not selective. And this should be a wake-up call for many people that no matter how powerful you are, if they violate the law, they cannot escape the long arm of the law).
Pecson, a member of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Government (US4PGG), believes Sen. Estrada, who is in the U.S., and Sen. Revilla, who is in Israel, are not in a hurry to return to their country. They are going to the countries, where the Philippines has no extradition treaty.
Photo of Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona-Robredo (JGLPhoto courtesy of the Rep. Robredo’s office)