Pork Barrel Scam Update: Miriam Santiago names JPE as rumor monger

    Manila, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago today named Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who is accused of plunder, as the "brains and financier," of an alleged psywar destabilization operation that she said began with yesterday's story in an opposition paper alleging that ranking officials of the Aquino administration are the mastermind behind the pork barrel scam.

    Sentor Juan Ponce Enrile

    The long story, carried prominently by an obscure opposition newspaper, suspiciously quoted unnamed sources, and failed to refer to any official document.

    The suspicious story cited anonymous sources claiming that the most guilty in the pork scam are Pres. Aquino's trusted allies in the Liberal Party, namely, DBM Sec. Florencio Butch Abad, Agriculture Sec. Proceso Alcala, Senate President Franklin Drilon, and the self-described independent senator Francis Escudero.

    At various intervals, the story claimed that there is an alleged list of all other high public officials implicated in the pork scam, held by at least four people, none of whom revealed the contents of the list.

    Those who claim to have this list which, at this writing, has not been shown to the media, are: Janet Napoles, also accused of plunder; Justice Secretary Leila de Lima; controversial personality identifying herself as an alleged whistleblower, Sandra Cam; and presidential assistant and staunch Enrile ally, Panfilo Lacson.

    In an interview after a speech before the Philippine Association of Pathologists at a Metro Manila hotel, Santiago said that the "tall tale spun by a small opposition newspaper" is the first in a scheduled barrage of stories against the Aquino administration, intended to destabilize Metro Manila, and to divert national attention away from the plunder charges against Enrile and two other senators, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Ramon Revilla, Jr.

    "This is serendipity. Right after I announced yesterday that there will be a massive disinformation operation against the Aquino administration, true enough, an opposition newspaper with small circulation printed creative fiction punctuated by references to anonymous sources and absent any reference to any official documents of the COA or any other source that are listed as evidence in the Rules of Court," she said.

    Santiago, a multiawarded former RTC judge, said that under the Rules of Court, only object or real evidence is admissible, meaning objects which are addressed to the sense of the court. The only other admissible evidence, she said, is documentary evidence.

    But she explained that documentary evidence is subject to the so-called "best evidence rule," which means that only the original document itself should be presented, unless the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer.

    "If any of the accusations against certain individuals are true, the accusation must be supported by an authenticated copy of a public record in the custody of the Commission on Audit or the budget department. The suspicious story does not refer to any such public record," the senator said.

    Santiago also invoked the so-called "parol evidence rule," which means that if there is a written document, the evidence is confined only to the written document and no other evidence can be admitted to modify the terms of the written document.

    Further, Santiago said that the suspicious story does not even contain testimonial evidence, because the testimony must come from a person who has been qualified as a witness.

    "In the Rules of Court, there is no such thing as an invisible witness. In the rule of journalistic ethics, the court will not allow libel, which is defined as 'reckless disregard of the truth'," Santiago said.

    "Therefore we can conclude that this suspicious news story is just a concoction of the fevered brain of Enrile, whom the Ombudsman has resolved to be culpable for the crime of plunder," she said.

    Santiago said that Enrile is "clutching at straws," because if the Ombudsman denies his motion for reconsideration, then the Ombudsman will file the case with the Sandiganbayan court. Ultimately, if the case is filed, the Sandiganbayan will suspend Enrile from office and hold him in detention, because plunder is nonbailable.

    The senator also said that Napoles - who earlier clammed up under Santiago's interrogation during the Senate hearing, is no longer a credible witness.

    "Part of Enrile's diversionary tactics are the statement of his allies - Napoles and Lacson - that each one has a list of implicated persons, which will naturally include the names of all the Enrile enemies like myself, and the two Cayetano senators. Remember, he denied us our Christmas bonus out of sheer spite," Santiago said.

    Santiago said that the best public reaction to the story floating around is a sense of humor. "It's amusing and it may even be creative, but it is a waste of time. To foil the conspirators, let us simply go back to the basic principle that if a crime has been committed, there must be a punishment. Those who are charged with plunder should undergo trial. If convicted, they should go to jail for 30 years. That is the law, and no fairy tale should serve to distract us from this basic point," she said.

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