SAN CARLOS CITY – President Benigno Aquino III said yesterday that he is not firing members of his Cabinet on the list of Janet Lim Napoles and are allegedly among those linked to the pork barrel scam.
One cannot act on a mere list not backed by hard evidence, he said.
The President was responding to a question on alleged calls by militant groups for him to “dispose” of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director-general Joel Villanueva, for their being on the Napoles list.
The President noted the changing number of senators on the Napoles list, and asked whether this is being done to clear things up, or to sow confusion to hamper the filing of charges.
The law provides that one is “innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until you prove yourself innocent,” he said.
It is the obligation of government to make sure that when a case is filed, there is strong evidence so those who are guilty can be punished, he said.
“If we file charges without basis, the case will be dismissed and the person who may be at fault will be given a perpetual “get-out-of-jail card” because of double jeopardy, where he cannot be charged for the same case again,” he said.
One cannot be removed from one's job on mere criticism, what is important is there is evidence, he said.
Asked for his thoughts on the appeal of some senators to have Napoles and Benhur Luy appear again in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation, the President said, “Honestly where will that go?”
“Why does one list say 11 senators and another 14, why does it keep changing?” he asked.
“Is the goal to clear things, or to cause more confusion?” he asked.
“They want us to run out of time so we don't file any charges, so we need to be careful,” he said.*CPG