Two years after plunder charges were filed against them in court, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile have yet to stand trial.
Exactly two years ago on June 6, the Office of the Ombudsman filed three separate plunder cases at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
Revilla’s case was designated to the Sandiganbayan’s First Division; Estrada’s, to the Fifth Division and; Enrile’s to the Third Division.
Last September, the Sandiganbayan deferred the pre-trial with respect to Enrile whose camp was then awaiting the Supreme Court’s final ruling on his plea for a bill of particulars.
The defense said that a bill of particulars will help him prepare for his defense by requiring the prosecution to disclose detailed information on the plunder charge.
Enrile, 91, is out on bail after the Supreme Court (SC) granted his petition for bail on humanitarian grounds.
Meanwhile, the case with respect to two of his co-accused — his former aide Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes and businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles — has reached trial proper after their pre-trial pushed through last October.
Reyes is detained at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, while Napoles is serving a life sentence at the Correctional Institute for Women after a Makati court found her guilty in the serious illegal detention case filed against her by pork barrel scam witness Benhur Luy.
Napoles is also named respondent in the cases filed against Revilla and Estrada.
A pre-trial conference determines the direction of the case and aims to consider matters for a fair and expeditious trial.
These include plea bargaining, stipulation of facts, marking for identification of evidence of the parties, waiver of objections to admissibility of evidence, and modification of the order of trial if the accused admits the charge but interposes a lawful defense.
The pre-trial in the case filed against Revilla is scheduled on June 30, after the court made several deferments earlier in order to give time to the parties to finish marking the evidence that they intend to present during trial.
Likewise, the case filed against Estrada has yet to undergo pre-trial with the preliminary conferences (where documentary evidence are marked by the parties) still ongoing.
Both Revilla and Estrada are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
The Ombudsman also filed graft charges against the three senators in connection with the PDAF scam in June 2014.