MANILA (Mabuhay) – Former Senator Rene Saguisag on Monday chided members of President Benigno Aquino III’s Cabinet for their supposed poor handling of the pork barrel scam investigation, saying they resembled “a circular firing squad aiming at each other.”
In particular, Saguisag hit former Senator Panfilo Lacson and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, two officials who have gone public about allegedly being in possession of two “lists” of personalities who have benefitted from the multimillion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
“The government is beginning to look like a chicken-house government,” Saguisag said.
“Ang trabaho ni Ping ay rehab, hindi siya brooding omnipresence in the skies to tell Noynoy how to run the country. Si Leila rin, tigilan na yung mga interviews, magtrabaho na lang. [She] is spending a lot of time dealing with the press, kaya wala talagang mangyayari,” he added.
Aquino has appointed Lacson as presidential adviser for rehabilitation and recovery, tasked to oversee recovery efforts in the areas affected by last year’s deadly disasters, particularly super typhoon Yolanda.
Saquisag said instead of teasing the public with the list, both should coordinate with either Aquino or Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa.
“[Ping] should just approach Noynoy [and say,] ‘kung di ginagawa ni Leila ang trabaho niya, I will do it myself. Kung ayaw din ni Noynoy, mag-resign si [Ping]. Kung hindi siya pakinggan, mag-resign siya tsaka niya banatan. But when you are part of the team, you don’t wreck the image. Para kayong circular firing squad. Yan ang impression ko from where I sit,” he said.
Despite his own advice, Saguisag admitted that working together within the Cabinet would be hard work, especially during a time when it is wrecked by scandal. But the former senator noted that it is the only way for the investigations to move forward.
“Dahil reputations are involved, it’s going to be hard work, but if you keep giving press statements, keep praising the media, eh talagang walang mangyayari. Yan ang ginagawa ni Ping at ni Leila. Si Ping dapat tinututukan niya yung Yolanda rehab,” he said.
Saguisag also noted that Lacson and De Lima’s political ambitions have begun to hinder the investigation.
“Kaya hindi matapos yung trabaho, harap si [De Lima] ng harap sa media. Kung tintrabaho niya yan, tapos na siguro yan. But she has wasted a lot of time facing the media. May ambisyon din siguro yan sa pulitika.” Saguisag said, adding that Lacson is no different.
“Yung ginagawa niya, makikita mo yung ambisyon maging president, na siya yung sikat, talagang gustong gusto niya. Pag tinawag na ‘Mr. President’ si Ping, naluluha rin yan,” Saguisag said.
Meanwhile, Saguisag cautioned that Lacson and De Lima’s actions are not doing Aquino any favors. “Parang walang leadership si Noynoy eh, ini-embarrass nila eh. [It looks like] no one is in control,” he said.
Innocent until proven guilty
In the end, Saguisag called on the members of the Cabinet as well as the public to remember that all the personalities allegedly involved in the pork scam are still considered innocent until a court says otherwise.
“What can be proven at this time? I believe in the presumption of innocence in the bill of rights and in the universal declaration of human rights,” Saguisag said.
“Igalang ang Saligang Batas. As of now, walang makakapaghusga diyan. It’s up to the conscience of the individual concerned to do what he wants,” he added.
Saguisag also took the time to caution Lacson against his habit of taking things in his own hands, saying if Lacson wants to be president someday, he should study human rights
“Pero ngayon, yung hinusgahan [sila] ni Ping, na mag-resign na daw sila, aba sino ba si Ping? Talo pa niya ang Korte Suprema. Talaga namang ang background niyan wala sa due process, kaya hindi na ako nagtataka. But it’s time, kung gusto niya mag-presidente, he should review the bill of rights and the universal declaration of human rights,” he said. (MNS)