Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano backs the proposal for the creation of special divisions at the Sandiganbayan that will exclusively hear cases related to the pork barrel scam, saying these cases should be resolved before President Benigno Aquino 3rd steps down in 2016.
The senator on Sunday said the request for the formation of two special divisions in the anti-graft court that will handle the trial of senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Janet Lim- Napoles and their co-accused will speed up the trial for plunder and prevent the next administration from intervening in the case.
Cayetano, the Senate Majority leader, said there is nothing unusual in the creation of special divisions since this was done in 2002 for the plunder case of former President Joseph Estrada.
“And since the PDAF [priority development assistance fund or pork barrel]cases are considered special in the sense that it involves billions of pesos of public funds and the accused are powerful government officials, the creation of special divisions is just right,” he told a radio interview aired over dzBB.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has asked the Supreme Court to create a special division to exclusively hear, try and decide the plunder and other graft-related cases against the three senators, other government officials and private individuals linked to the pork scam.
Cayetano noted that it will be best if pork-related cases are resolved before the term of Aquino ends so that his successor will not have the chance to intervene or influence the process especially if the next President is an ally of the accused.
The senator said that while he believes in the independence of the Sandiganbayan and the Department of Justice, the next leader will wield great power and may influence the case.
With the filing of a plunder complaint against the three senators, their former staff and Napoles last Friday, all eyes will be on the Sandiganbayan this week as the public awaits the court’s decision whether to issue warrants for the arrest of the three senators.
But before the issuance of an arrest warrant, the anti-graft court has to raffle off the case.
The Sandiganbayan currently has five divisions.
Usually, cases are raffled off on Fridays. The division that will handle the case will issue an arrest warrant after determining probable cause.
Revilla filed a motion for judicial determination of probable cause on Saturday.
Malacañang also on Sunday said the pork issue will be tackled by the President when he delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) in July.
According to Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Aquino has discussed with his speechwriters the outline of his Sona.
“Part of the priorities of the government [Aquino administration] is good governance and anti-corruption,” Coloma said in Filipino.
“It [filing of pork barrel scam cases]will certainly be discussed because the President will report the performance of the administration on its important programs and priorities under the Philippine Development Plan,” he added.