Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday gave this advice to senators implicated in the pork barrel scam: “Eat, blank and die.”
An angry Santiago, who appeared for the first time since the 16th Congress opened, said criminal charges should be filed against senators in the scandal.
“The government should at least file criminal charges against those public officials involved in the PDAF scam,” Santiago said in a press briefing.
There is strong evidence against the senators, Santiago said, including whistleblowers’ testimonies before the National Bureau of Investigation.
The senator added she plans to attend the Senate hearing on the scandal, which accuse lawmakers of funneling funds to bogus NGOs led by Janet Napoles.
“I want to be present in the Blue Ribbon committee hearing if Janet Napoles is allowed by court to be present and if the whistleblowers who executed their affidavits are present,” a GMA News report quoted Santiago as saying.
Investigative reports have linked at least five senators in the alleged P10-billion scam: Senators Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Gringo Honasan and Bongbong Marcos.
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Allowing senators who misuse of public funds to go unpunished, Santiago said, will “show that senators are a special breed” and will lead to public outrage.
Prodded to give advice to her colleagues not implicated in the scam, Santiago quipped: “Abolish the Congress. Commit mass hara-kiri (suicide).”
This, as she noted that the controversy which marred the Senate’s reputation has made her contemplate suicide during her prolonged sick leave.
The senator meanwhile challenged President Benigno Aquino III to hasten the filing of charges against lawmakers involved in the scam.
For senators to be able to resist the temptation of corruption, Santiago also pushed for an increase in their pay to some P500,000 monthly from P90,000.
“Huwag naman P90,000. I have worked myself sick. It’s not worth my time. Magpatuka na lang ako sa ahas,” Santiago said.
She noted, however, that a raise for lawmakers’ should be matched by an increase in the salary of all government workers and employees.
“We cannot increase our salaries as senators, congressmen, or high public officials, unless we increase the salaries of the lowest paid,” Santiago said.
She also urged Charter change to allow only taxpayers to vote, a move which she said would address patronage politics rampant among the poorest Filipinos.
“The taxpayers are being ruled by the choice of the nontaxpayers,” Santiago said, citing poor voters’ vulnerability to sell their vote.