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Romualdez, Velasco back PRRD drive vs corruption

Martin Romualdez and Lord Alan Velasco
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez (left) joins House Speaker Lord Alan Velasco (right) and and all members of the House of Representatives in expressing their full support to President Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte's campaign to weed out corrupt officials. Photo by VER NOVENO

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday joined Speaker Lord Allan Velasco in supporting President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s renewed campaign against all forms of corruption in the government.

“I join Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and my colleagues in the House of Representatives in expressing our full support to President Rodrigo ‘Rody’ Duterte’s campaign to weed out corrupt officials from all levels of governance,” said Romuldez, chairman of the powerful House committee on rules.

On Tuesday, several lawmakers led by Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman denied allegations of receiving kickbacks from the projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) allegedly in cahoots with district engineers based on the list provided by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to President Duterte.

Aside from Roman, President Duterte also named the following lawmakers who were included in the PACC list: Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato, former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal, Isabela Rep. Alyssa Tan, Northern Samar Rep. Paul Daza, Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap.

Romualdez also lauded President Duterte’s decision to issue a memorandum directing the Department of Justice (DoJ) to commence an investigation into allegations of corruption “in the entire government.”

He also underscored the importance to observe the constitutional right to due process of those who were included in the list.

“In line with the President’s directive, it is now the duty of the DoJ to give the legislators named in the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission’s (PACC) list the proper forum to face their accusers and defend themselves,” said Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines (UP) and President of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).

“We are hopeful that the DoJ will double-check and assess thoroughly the list submitted by the PACC to President Duterte, to verify which of these charges have basis and which are mere products of the imaginative minds of rival politicians,” Romualdez stressed.

“We do not wish that the President’s war against corruption get sidetracked by polluted sources who are engaged in local partisan politics.

The President is serious in getting rid of corruption in the last remaining years of his term. Let us support him and stand with him in this crusade,” Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).

Earlier, Velasco said the issue raised by the President should be brought before the Office of the Ombudsman as a matter of giving the concerned lawmakers the opportunity to air their sides.

“Pursuant to due process, we believe that the matter should be brought before the Ombudsman, given the limited jurisdiction of the PACC over officials in the Executive Branch, and not those in the legislature,” Velasco pointed out.

Velasco also underscored the importance to observe “the presumption of innocence and such announcement [by the President] was not an indictment.”

The Speaker assured these officials that reading their names “does not mean it’s a condemnation or indictment that you are guilty of something” and that the public should “not take it as gospel truth that it’s true.”

Martin Romualdez and Lord Alan Velasco
Martin Romualdez and Lord Alan Velasco

“We agree with the President that the public officials implicated in corruption enjoy the presumption of innocence until their conviction or acquittal, whatever the case may be,” Velasco explained.

Based on reports, the House members mentioned in the PACC list claimed that none of the representatives from PACC have invited them for questioning.

It appears that the PACC has not made any investigation as to the veracity of the accusations against them since they belong to another branch of government, which is not within the authority of the Commission, according to Velasco.

“It is important that the concerned officials be given the chance to respond to the allegations of corrupt practices. Due process dictates that a thorough investigation be conducted to determine whether there is probable cause or evidence to support the charges against them,” said Velasco

Duterte said, “the public should be aware that there is no hard evidence, that’s one; that it cannot be translated by just reading the names that they are already guilty because presumption of innocence would lie all throughout until conviction or acquittal…Kaya lang lumabas ‘yung mga pangalan nila eh kailangan ko sabihin sa mga tao or else I’d look stupid.”

“I just want to assure everybody that ‘yung pagbasa sa pangalan ninyo is not a condemnation or an indictment that you are guilty of something. In the same manner that I would tell the people that do not take it as a gospel truth,” Duterte added.

Publication Source :    People's Journal