HE has packed a bag and is ready to go. To jail, that is.
Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday said he is ready for detention and is merely waiting for the Sandiganbayan sheriff to serve him an arrest warrant.
“I’ve been prepared since several days ago. I’ve already packed up my things to bring to Camp Crame if that’s where we are going to be confined,” the Senator told reporters in an interview. “Even if I die in my cell, it’s okay,” he added.
Camp Crame in Quezon City is the national headquarters of the Philippine National Police.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed plunder charges against Enrile, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles on Friday in connection with the pork barrel scam. The anti-graft court is yet to raffle off the case.
Enrile, 90, said he has no plans to resist arrest since, as a lawyer, he is familiar with the legal process. He noted that it does not matter to him where he will be arrested.
The senator said he has no plans to go to the Supreme Court at this stage because he would rather face the charges at the Sandiganbayan.
“I was served the warrant here in the Senate in 1990. It was here in the Senate that I was arrested. The second time I was arrested was in 2001 at my house,” he told reporters.
Enrile was arrested inside the Senate premises in 1990 on charges of rebellion in connection with the December 1989 coup attempt that rocked the government of then-President Corazon Aquino.
Eleven years later, he was again arrested and detained at Camp Crame in connection with the failed Malacanang siege staged by supporters of former President Joseph Estrada.
Enrile welcomed the filing of the plunder complaint against them in court, saying it gives them the chance to prove their innocence.
“It’s good that we are given the opportunity to use the proper forum to discharge all of these speculations, all of these charges, all of these things that are being thrown at us,” he said.
Estrada, however, said he will exhaust all legal remedies available including the filing of a motion asking the Sandiganbayan for a legal determination of probable cause or suspension of the proceedings. He added that he will confer with his lawyers led by Jose Flaminiano, who also defended his father when the older Estrada was charged with plunder.
Revilla filed a similar motion on Saturday.
But the arrest of the three senators and their co-accused may be delayed because the anti-graft court is waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on the request of the Ombudsman that a special division be created to exclusively try “pork” cases.
On Monday, the Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges at the Sandiganbayan against Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, also in connection with the alleged misuse of their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Enrile was charged with 15 counts of graft, Estrada, 11 and Revilla, 16.
Also charged with violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft Law are Napoles, Revilla’s staff Richard Cambe; John Raymund de Asis; former Technology Resource Center Director General Dennis Cunanan; Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos; Rosario Nuñez; Lalaine Paule; Marilou Bare; TRC officials Antonio Ortiz, Francisco Figura, Ma. Rosalinda Lacsamana and Marivic Jover; and private individuals Myla Ogerio, Eulogio D. Rodriguez and Laarni Uy.
Flaminiano assured that Estrada will squarely face the charges and will not go into hiding.
“We will make legal steps to clarify the situation because many are saying that they might be arrested immediately. We will file something,” he told reporter without elaborating.
“Nandiyan na iyan pero buo naman ang dibdib nila na wala silang kasalanan, haharapin niya lang [The case is there and they are determined to face it to prove that they are innocent),” the lawyer said.
Flaminiano added that he can also be a collaborating counsel for Enrile, his law school classmate and friend.
“We will answer it all [accusations], the case is too complicated. We will do all that we could to defend our clients,” he said.
Flaminiano is also the counsel of former President Gloria Arroyo, who is also facing plunder charges in connection with the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.