Ombudsman should provide copies of respondents’ statements
This is in reaction to the news report titled “Ombudsman denies Jinggoy, Gigi bid for respondents’ statements” (News, 4/17/14).
According to the news report, the Office of the Ombudsman denied the motions of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada et al. to be furnished with copies of statements submitted by other personalities in this case so they will be in a position to file their corresponding replies. However, they were flatly denied the opportunity to properly respond to the statements; the Ombudsman claimed it is not mandated to provide copies, under the rules governing the procedure.
While every person may be treated equally before any investigating body, like the Ombudsman, one should always remember that at this point of the investigation of Estrada et al., the respondents or accused should still be presumed innocent considering that they are not yet indicted formally before the Sandiganbayan.
Hence, fair play and due process demand that the senator-respondents be afforded equal justice, especially considering that they are duly elected members of the Philippine Senate.
I have no personal relation whatsoever with the three members of the Senate, and I may even applaud if they are formally charged before the Ombudsman and found guilty after a fair trial.
Finally, I suggest that the respondents be given all the opportunity to defend themselves, considering that they might find themselves imprisoned without bail following the rules governing plunder cases.
—ARTURO M. TOPACIO JR.,
Topacio Law Office,
Dra. Salamanca-L. Jaena Streets,
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