3 senators may be arrested in 2 weeks – De Lima

13

JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima on Saturday said senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada may be arrested in two weeks time. The three senators, their former chiefs of staff and several others were charged with plunder at the Sandiganbayan on  Friday.

Advertisements

De Lima said the executive branch was awaiting word from the anti-graft court on when to arrest the three.

She denied there were political overtones in the case, saying the evidence simply pointed to the trio.

The three lawmakers, who include a son of former president Joseph Estrada and a 90-year political survivor who enforced martial law under dictator Ferdinand Marcos, are accused of channeling billions of pesos into bogus organizations in return for huge kickbacks.

De Lima, whose investigators prepared the case against the opposition senators, said they had enough evidence to pin down the accused.

“We are confident that there is enough evidence to support conviction and we continue to strengthen the evidence,” she told Agence France-Presse.

The evidence included testimony from whistleblowers involved in the alleged corruption and documents from government agencies showing that funds were syphoned off, she added.

If convicted, the three senators could face life in prison.

Enrile, 90, has outlasted four previous presidents and was chief enforcer of martial law under Marcos in the 1970s.

Estrada, 51, is the son of former president and movie star Joseph Estrada while Revilla, 47, is a showbiz star as well as the son of another movie star-turned-senator.

Janet Lim-Napoles, who allegedly masterminded the scam, was among those indicted.

Aquino’s deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said the indictments were just the start and that more people would eventually be named in the massive corruption scandal that has riveted the nation for months.

The accusations, which surfaced last year, triggered a firestorm of outrage over the “pork barrel” system whereby legislators get huge amounts of money which they can use on pet projects.

Thousands marched in protest against the practice, which the Supreme Court outlawed in November.

Other officials have also been named as involved in the scandal including allies of Aquino.
Spokesmen for the three senators could not be contacted for comment but Estrada and Revilla were quoted by radio station DZMM as saying the charges were unfair.

“They want [Aquino] to be able to say that he jailed three senators as part of his anti-corruption drive,” Estrada said.

Respect the Senate
However, Malacañang agrees with Senate President Franklin Drilon that the three senators should not be arrested at the Senate.

Valte said no arrests should be made in the Senate premises.

“The appeal of Senate President Drilon is according respect to the Senate as an institution.

The Palace shares that appeal in respect to the institution,” Valte said in a radio inerview.

The plunder charges are yet to be raffled by the Sandiganbayan, but Revilla has already filed a motion to suspend the proceedings and a motion for judicial determination of probable cause.

Valte said the executive is ready to assist in the serving of the warrants of arrest once the anti-graft court determined that there is probable cause to pursue the cases against the accused.

“We are ready to carry our task and implement the court’s decision,” the Palace official noted.

Revilla and Estrada claimed that the Ombudsman railroaded the filing of charges against them.

Valte dismissed such claims.

“The Ombudsman had given them enough time and reviewed their motions for
reconsideration and gathered all pieces of evidence. The Ombudsman’s resolution underwent rigorous process. Besides, the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent constitutional commission apart from the Executive,” she pointed out.

The Palace also backed the proposal of the Ombudsman that the Supreme Court create two special divisions at the Sandiganbayan that will exclusively try the plunder and other pork-related cases.

Valte said Malacanang sees nothing wrong with the proposal if it will lead to the faster resolution of the cases.

“Hopefully, whatever their [Supreme Court’s]decision may be, it will help in making sure the proceedings are conducted in a timely manner without much delay,” Valte said.

Meanwhile, sources in the national police headquarters said that space was being cleared at a special “custodial center” for high-profile inmates to make way for several big-name arrivals.

The center currently hosts 72 inmates including top communist insurgents, suspected drug traffickers and police officials linked to graft and major human rights abuses.
However it should ideally hold only 60 inmates, the sources said.

Share.
loading...
Loading...

Please follow our commenting guidelines.

13 Comments

  1. Within two weeks, someone will be on wheelchair or brace on the neck or bleeding or anything that will put them in the hospital instead of jail.

  2. nod if you agree on

    “She denied there were political overtones in the case, saying the evidence simply pointed to the trio.”

    The evidence also points to ABAD…

  3. Why does Leila de Lima keep on telegraphing what her next moves will be regarding possible arrest of the three accused senators? What she does doesn’t make any sense. In a war, stealth and secrecy are most important so the enemies won’t know what will hit them. During the Second World War, Britain put out posters saying “Loose lips sink ships!”

    Likewise, talkative de Lima should zip up her loose lips. She obviously delights on being in the newspapers’ front pages daily by yapping non-stop.

  4. Hilario Martinez on

    what about the other congressmen and senators mentioned in the 2007-2009 COA special audit report? what about the 80 other NGOs included in the report?

    I gathered that malversation of public funds, either by falsification of public documents or by negligence can also be non-bailable if the amount involve is about P28,000.00 is involve per count. so what is keeping them away from formal prosecution or palabas lang talaga ang lahat na ito?

  5. When the prosecutions start and the sentencing are finished, with the guilty sent to prison, until then will our Justice System gain the respect of the Filipino people. At present , their credibility and snail paced system are suspect to politicking and biased procedures.We need a proactive Supreme Court in times like this to be more vigilant when the executive and the legislative branches are so corrupted or is our Supreme Court Corrupted too?

  6. I think all those who say respect the senate as an institution are wrong. They say the 3 senators shouldnt be arrested inside the senate out of respect. I say 1st off respect should be earned & right now there has been no sign of the senate earning the respect of the people. The will of the people should be respected & these senators should be shown that even in the senate they cant hide from the people. By refusing to allow senators to be arrested inside the senate means any time a senator is accused of something & is going to be arrested he can avoid arrest by staying in the senate. That shouldnt be allowed. There should be no hiding place from the law senate or no senate. Its again these politicians telling you we are better than you we are above the law. The law should be above the senate.

  7. Jose R morales Jr on

    Why wait fir anither three weeks or so…Philippine”s judiciary system is so slow and it looks that there are “sabit-sabit” to the process.

  8. Toti de Guzman on

    You can charge these senators till you are blue in the face but I don’t think they will suffer any punishment. Their only punishment they will suffer is their exposure of being crooks.

  9. These alleged high profile cases are nothing but just for a show – a political vindictiveness of PNoy. I can foresee that nothing will happen to this political “zarzuela”. Look, what happen to the Ampatuan cases after more than 3 years. This is not going anywhere. It is an exercise in futility – a waste of taxpayer’s money. This political exercise is clearly a ploy to divert people’s attention from PNoy’s slipshod performance. This pork barrel scam had been embedded in our political system since time immemorial. When PNoy was a legislator for more than 12 years, where and how did he used his pork barrel? Why is he and his cohorts spared from being indicted in the pork barrel scam charges? Don’t be selective. Include yourself and all the political Abad.

  10. How can this administration (under this President) claim the arrest of corrupt Senators and others as his “legacy” of anti-corruption, when his own cabinet members are also implicated in the big pork barrel scam scandals . The truth is , this is just a mere coincidence this disclosure happened , because the Lord empowered the whistleblowers not to be afraid in exposing the big anomaly that’s crippling the country(like a cancer ) and its people for a very, very long time .

  11. Congress/Senate as one major branch of the governing body of the Philippine gov’t has not demonstrated any good example and failed the people who elected them, doesn’t deserve any respect ,period.

  12. There was no vulgar language in the comment I wrote the other day against those people implicated in these scandals. In fact, I used the words to paraphrase, if proven guilty. Yet, this newspaper decided to censor my comments. What is wrong with this newspaper? Stop censoring your readers. No wonder the criminals are having field days in the Philippines. Because you don’t have the guts to stand for the people’s rights to speak against their leaders.

    • Good morning, Mr. Acebedo. As far as we can see, we have approved your comments since they are all well-written, relevant and comply with our guidelines. The comment queue was extra long past few days so apologies for delay in approving