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Jinggoy, Bong Revilla won’t resign over plunder raps


Despite facing plunder charges over the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. are not considering quitting their posts.

In a phone interview on Monday, Estrada dismissed an online petition for his resignation launched by the #ScrapPork Network, which led the massive protest against the pork barrel system in August last year. 
 
Anti-‘pork’ march organizer urges indicted senators to go on leave
Public officials embroiled in the P10-billion pork barrel scam should temporarily vacate their posts in the face of investigation and looming court proceedings.

This was according to Vince Lazatin, who said in a TV interview Monday that the involved officials should take a leave of absence to preserve the integrity of the office they represent.

“Kung meron kang konting delicadeza, yung prolonged stay, yung active stay mo on office habang ito [case] ay naga-unfold, mas maigi mag-step aside o leave of absence ka muna,” Lazatin, executive director of Transparency and Accountability Network, said on GMA News TV's “News To Go.”

“How can they operate effectively if these charges are very serious? Daan milyong piso ang pinag-uusapan dito,” he added.

Three senators and several former members of the House of Representatives have been implicated in the scam, as well as several officials of government agencies that allegedly served as conduits in the funneling of public funds to bogus non-government organizations.

Two of the senators, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., have already said they have no plans of quitting their posts despite findings by the Office of the Ombudsman that they should be charged with plunder in connection with the scam.

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"My conscience is clean ... I will not resign because this is all political persecution," Estrada, who is currently at the United States, told Senate reporters.

Meanwhile, Revilla's lawyer Joel Bodegon said he finds "no basis" for his client to resign over the Office of the Ombudsman's decision to recommend plunder charges against the senator.

"From the beginning, he [Revilla] has always maintained his innocence of the crimes charged against him. And therefore, [I] see no basis for him to resign," Bodegon said in a separate interview.

Online petition

Last Tuesday, the Office of the Ombudsman announced that it has decided to charge Senators Revilla, Estrada and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile with plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam. 

The Ombudsman's recommendation prompted the #ScrapPork Network to launch a petition on change.org calling for the three senators' resignation "because honor must be restored in the Senate." 

Earlier in the day, Revilla, who is currently in Israel, filed through his lawyer a motion for reconsideration before the Office of the Ombudsman seeking to dismiss the plunder charges against him. 

Estrada had also earlier expressed intention to appeal the Ombudsman's decision. On the other hand, Enrile had not given any statements to the media since the release of the Ombudsman's recommendation.

Jinggoy: File ethics raps

Meanwhile, Estrada dared his Senate colleagues to bring the pork barrel issue before the ethics committee.

"The proper thing to do is to file an ethics complaint. E di, mag-file sila. Wala namang problema iyon," Estrada said.

Senator Francis Escudero, for his part, agreed with Estrada's view that any move to expel or suspend one of his colleagues should be coursed through the ethics panel.

The Senate ethics committee, however, has yet to be convened, supposedly due to senators' "aversion" to the chairmanship of the panel.

"To begin with, before any expulsion or suspension can be initiated, dapat maporma muna yung ethics committee na hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa napoporma. Hiniling na namin noon yan na dapat na maporma para madinig mang lang yung kaso at mabigyan ng venue yung mga kapwa naming senador na mailahad yun panig nila," Escudero said in a separate interview. — RSJ, GMA News
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