MANILA, Sept 16 (Mabuhay) — Senator Leila de Lima on Saturday said Congress might as well decriminalize plunder and repeal the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because these are “useless” under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a statement released hours after former senator Jinggoy Estrada was released on bail, De Lima said Duterte was leading a “virtual amnesty program for the country’s top plunderers.”
“The exoneration of plunderers under this administration is almost complete,” De Lima wrote.
“After the Marcoses, [former senator Juan Ponce] Enrile, [former President Gloria] Arroyo and now, Estrada, and the impending release of (former senator) Bong Revilla and Janet Lim Napoles, Congress might as well decriminalize the crime of plunder and repeal the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because they have become useless and worthless under Duterte and his virtual amnesty program for the country’s top plunderers,” she added.
De Lima expressed concern over the Sandiganbayan “suddenly” finding cause to allow Estrada to post bail.
The senator noted that the anti-graft court had initially denied bail for Estrada on the account of “strong evidence” to back plunder charges against him.
“Is the judiciary now introducing new procedure and doctrines just to accommodate the whims of the President?” she asked.
“As an aside, if that is now the reasoning of the courts, then I should be the very first person to be granted bail,” she added, citing her voluntary surrender.
De Lima is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame on drug-related charges.
Estrada and Enrile, along with Revilla, were also detained at the Custodial Center.
It was during the detained senator’s time as secretary of the Department of Justice when Estrada, Enrile, Revilla and Napoles were arrested due to their alleged involvement in the multi-billion peso pork barrel fund scam.
De Lima added that the President has imposed an “absolute dictatorship” over Congress and the judiciary branch.
“We might be going back to the Martial Law judiciary of the 1970s – a time when the subservience of the judiciary was symbolized by the Chief Justice serving as the umbrella-holder of Imelda Marcos – even without Martial Law,” she said.
“We are already under a dictatorship, with Congress and the judiciary already under Duterte’s thumb. A martial law proclamation would just be a formality,” she added. (MNS)