It only took around 45 minutes, but Department of Justice secretary Leila de Lima swiftly announced the filing of plunder, malversation of public funds, bribery, and graft and corruption charges against Pork Barrel mastermind Janet Napoles, senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, and 34 others. Seconds after the charges were filed, media reporters rush in to grab documents of the said cases.
Even before the announcement was made, Senator Enrile had been rushed to the hospital after complaining of difficulty in urinating. It was also reported that once the charges against him were announced, he immediately proclaimed his innocence. Let’s face it, Enrile is an ailing 89-year old man, and accusing him of plunder at his advanced age is not what I want to see. The accusations against him would only hasten his already failing health, and may lead to his eventual death.
Senator Estrada had been accused of plunder before, when he and his father, former President and Manila mayor Joseph Estrada, were both charged relating to the Jose Velarde scandal twelve years earlier. Senator Revilla had also been involved in prior legal cases, both during his acting and ongoing political career. While both denied the accusations, Senator Estrada has said he is prepared to face the charges, while Senator Revilla said that the people should not judge him and his co-accusers this early in their ordeal.
In terms of television coverage, all of the major networks aired the live press conference of de Lima’s announcement. While GMA News TV, DZMM Teleradyo and the ABS-CBN News Channel were able to carry the live press conference, TV5 was forced to carry the announcement as sister station AksyonTV carried the live NCAA games. TV5’s live coverage of the announcement affected their programming; their ‘Sine Ko Singko’ program was delayed for several minutes, while another rerun of ‘Face to Face’ significantly cut the airtime allotted for the public service program ‘T3: Reload’. The Tulfo brothers’ program was reduced to 10 minutes rather than the standard 30, and time constraints prevented any complainants from voicing some of their complaints on national TV. If I were News5 head Luchi Cruz-Valdes, I would tell TV5 president Noel Lorenzana to stop airing reruns of ‘Face to Face’ and instead replace it with any of News5’s public affairs programs, or the live simulcast of Radyo5 92.3 News FM‘s ‘Cristy FerMinute’, because it is becoming too annoying.
Meanwhile, the trial for the plunder case against Napoles and 37 other co-conspirators will be announced soon, and is expected to be carried live by all of the major networks.