Getting away with plunder
First it was former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who was charged with plunder for her alleged misuse of P366 million from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for political purposes. There was no doubt that, as president, she had control of those funds which could not be legally accounted for. But she was acquitted by no less than the Supreme Court (with the aid of well-entrenched justices she had appointed there) because there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt that she herself pocketed any part of those funds.
Then came the acquittal of Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante who was charged with plunder for his alleged misuse of the P723-million fertilizer fund of the Department of Agriculture. There was no doubt he was given full control of those funds which could not be legally accounted for. The Sandiganbayan, apparently following the Supreme Court dictum in the Arroyo case, acquitted him because there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt he pocketed any part of those funds.
There is now very little doubt in many people’s minds that former senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada—all accused of plunder for the misuse of their pork barrel funds—are headed the same path. We see the Inquirer headline blaring: “No conclusive proof that they helped themselves to the loot!”
What is happening to the justice system in this country? VIPs are getting away with plunder in the hundreds of millions while inconsequential satraps accountable for just a few thousand pesos get clamped in jail!
MARGIE MEGAN LIBRANDO, [email protected]
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