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CHICAGO – Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo (LP, 3rd district, Camarines Su) said that the prosecution of senators and congressmen linked to the P10-billion ($238 million) Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) scam will not remove glamour off politics but will instead strengthen democratic institutions in the Philippines.

In a phone interview with Journal GlobaLinks, Congresswoman Robredo said the filing of plunder and graft charges against some senators and congressmen “ay importante para sa tuwid na daan (important in the drive for straight governance path).”

The first-term congresswoman is the widow of the late  Secretary Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government who died in a plane crash in 2012.

She said the filing of the charges against the lawmakers “will be sending a very strong message to our countrymen na hindi namimili ang batas (law is not selective) and for a very long time, ang pakiramdam ng mga ordinaryong mga tao (ordinary people feel) na kung maliit ka, saka ka pinopursigue (if you have less in life, you are the one being persecuted) at kung malaki kang tao (if you are influential), you are untouchable.”

A lawyer, Mrs. Robredo said she is not prejudging the case but the charges filed against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla and others show that nobody is above the law. “Itong ginagawa ngayon sa palagay ko ay makakatulong sa pagbabalik ng confidence ng taong bayan at ating gobyerno sa justice system.” (I feel that the filing of charges will help restore confidence of the people in their government and the justice system.)

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Congresswoman Robredo was interviewed in connection with an invitation extended to her by Evelyn R. Tolledo, president of Bikol U.S.A. of Midwest (BUSAM) to be the guest of honor and speaker during the Registration and Breakfast on Saturday, July 26, 2014, that will usher in a three-day national convention of the Bikol National Associations of America (BNAA).

The convention, which will be hosted by BUSAM, will be held at Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O’Hare Hotel at 5550 N. River Road, Chicago’s Rosemont, Illinois.

Accepting the invitation, Attorney Robredo thanked the organizers led by Ms. Tolledo. She appealed to her fellow Bikolanos who will be attending the July 25-27 convention to unite with our fellow Bikolanos to have a stronger voice and to help our fellowmen.

Mrs. Robredo believes that Senators Estrada and Revilla will make good their word that they are returning to the Philippines. They made the promise after charges were filed against them by the Ombudsman.

“Palagay ko babalik sila. Hindi naman sila papayagan ng gobyernong umalis kung hindi na sila babalik para harapin ang kaso. (I think they will come back. The government will not let them leave if they will not come back to answer the charges against them.)

“There is just too much at stake because they are sitting senators. Only yesterday, these senators brushed aside suggestions that they should resign.”

She suggested, however, that it would be “the ethical thing to do if these senators take leave of absence pending the resolution of their motions for reconsideration.”

Saying that she cannot speak for President Aquino, Mrs. Robredo, who is a member of the ruling Liberal Party, believes that the President is going to keep his word that he will prosecute “everyone involved,” including members of the Liberal Party.

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The congresswomansaid if the senators and congressmen are eventually convicted, the convictions would strengthen the democratic institutions.

She added, people asks, “Bakit sa ibang lugar kahit matataas na opisyal naco-convict. Pero, sa atin hindi. Kung maco-convict lalakas uli ang paniniwala ng tao sa kanyang gobyerno dahil ang justice system ay hindi pumipili magiging symbol ng pagbabago marami na ang ma-wawarn, kasi kahit na sino pa sila kung gumawa sila ng kasalanan hindi sila palalagpasin ng justice system.” (People are asking why in other countries top government officials are being convicted, but not in the Philippines. The conviction will restore the trust in the government because the justice system is not selective. And this should be a wake-up call for many people that no matter how powerful they are, if they violate the law they could  escape prosecution).