SENATE Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday called for a probe into the missing P1,000 from the P50-million bribe money that spared two immigration officials from being charged with plunder.
“Obviously, there was obstruction of justice because P1,000 was deducted from P50 million so the case would not be plunder,” Drilon said.
He asked for the status of the P50-million bribe money from Chinese tycoon Jack Lam during the Senate deliberations on the proposed P17.43-billion budget of the Department of Justice on Tuesday.
Republic Act 7659 says P50 million is the minimum amount of illegally acquired wealth that would qualify as plunder.
When asked who should conduct an investigation, Drilon said that was up to President Rodrigo Duterte since “the DoJ is involved here.”
“There are people from the DoJ who were accused, so I don’t think the DoJ is the proper agency to investigate this,” Drilon said.
He called on the Office of the President to constitute an independent probe or the Ombudsman to conduct an independent probe of the “very obvious amateur way of obstructing justice.”
Pressed if DoJ Seretary Vitaliano II Aguirre was involved in this “mockery of justice,” Drilon replied: “ I don’t want to presume that. I was just commenting on the facts that were presented to us.”
It was Aguirre who told the Senate finance committee led by Loren Legarda that the total amount returned was P49,999,000, an amount short of P1,000.
Drilon initially thought it was a joke, but when told it was the truth he asked if the P1,000 had been eaten by rats.
He recalled his previous experience as justice secretary when the drug evidence brought to court suddenly went missing, with the suspects’ camps saying those had been eaten by rats.
Aguirre claimed that his department did not participate in the counting of the money, saying it was the bank that did it. He also claimed they had a CCTV when the counting happened, but Drilon rejected it.
“You know, sir, we have this rule in evidence that the evidence must be consistent with the ordinary human experience. Isn’t it odd that the P50 million was reduced to P49 million?
“Incidentally, P50 million is the threshold for plunder. I do not know who should conduct the investigation here. The sad part is, you can’t file plunder charges because you lost the P1,000.”