Probable cause issue may delay arrest of senators

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THEY may have been indicted but senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. will not be immediately arrested.

Despite statements made by Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that the government has enough evidence to prove their guilt, the Sandiganbayan is yet to weigh the merits of the case on its own before it could issue arrest warrants against the lawmakers and their co-accused in the plunder complaint filed by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Sandiganbayan has not raffled off the case to its divisions, after which the determination of probable cause can commence. The division that will handle the case will have 10 days to determine if there are enough reasons to order the arrest of the accused.

But Drilon said that once arrest warrants are issued, he would not allow the Sandiganbayan sheriff to apprehend the lawmakers in the Senate premises.


“I would request that they do not arrest the accused in the Senate. But this is not a matter of law because, theoretically, the law enforcements officers can arrest them anywhere,” the Senate president told reporters on Friday.

Drilon noted that the issuance of warrants of arrest will lead to the automatic suspension of Enrile, Estrada and Revilla from the chamber.

He said the Ombudsman will have to file a motion at the Sandiganbanyan, which will then issue the suspension order.

But the anti-graft court can only issue a maximum of 90-day preventive suspension and, during that period, the suspended senators will be prevented from performing their duties as lawmakers.

Drilon said the suspended senators can still file bills from behind bars.

He admitted that while the search for truth may be painful, it is a necessary process that strengthens government institutions and reinforces the trust and confidence of the people in the justice system.

“We are a government of laws, not of men. And no one is above the law,” Drilon said.
The filing of the complaint, he added, will give the respondents the chance to defend themselves.

“We hope that the Sandiganbayan will set the case for speedy trial so that the innocent would be cleared and freed, and the guilty punished and jailed,” Drilon said.

Forfeiture
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano also on Friday said the next step by the Ombudsman should be to initiate forfeiture proceedings against the accused.

Citing Republic Act 6770 and Republic Act 1379, Cayetano added that the Ombudsman has the power to conduct a preliminary investigation of civil forfeiture upon a complaint filed by a taxpayer.

The senator said forfeiture proceedings will be faster and through this action, the government will be able to get back the loot stolen by public officials through illegal means.

“If you see that the wealth of a public official is not proportional to his or her income, then the government can confiscate his or her property,” Cayetano explained.

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6 Comments

  1. Renato rentoza on

    It is the ombudsman-delima-guingona and other palace mouthpieces that would have us believe that this is a slamdunk. In truth it has all been soundbites and drama, which the Inquirer and abscbn specializes in.

  2. Susan D. Carandang on

    Justice delayed is justice denied. People are wanting to see that whoever should be punished must be punished. The politicians will continue to be tempted of corruption if nobody will be punished. We have to continue praying that the evil doings of some people to stop, to be quided by the Holy Spirit , incidentally it is Pentecost Sunday tomorrow, Jun 8. May our politicians really serve the peoples’ interests especially of the minorities.

  3. Atty. Roslee M. Formoso on

    Since the Sandiganbayan is a court who determines whether the offense committed is bailable or not, is it bound by the technical rules of “preventive imprisonment?

    When the Ombudsman endorses the case to the SD, does the SD have to go over the findings of the Ombudsman with regards to the probable cause?

    While the Sandiganbayan can issue a Pre-Suspension 90 days, what happens when the case progress move to arraignment then trial will this Pre-Sups becomes permanent?

    After the suspension will the senators be disqualified to continue ?

  4. Finally the end is near. Glad to see that all the processes leading to the detention of four major players in the P10 billion scam as plunderer respondents are being followed with no major delay. “Click It”.

  5. If the Sandigan Bayan thumbs down the merits of the evidence compiled by former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Morales, then, the only probable cause is the corrupted money prepared by corrupt lawmakers to corrupt the Sandigan Bayan judges. What do you think? Political party affiliation or cowardice, maybe?

    The Supreme Court should assign a special court for this purpose to speed up the process. Former Justice Morales is right. And live coverage should be allowed so the public can see and avoid suspicion among them.

  6. VICTOR DEL ROSARIO on

    NO MAN IS ABOVE THE LAW.. what a shame that Mr Drilon mentioned it. All our corrupt politician and powerfull goverment employees is been doing it for centuries and nobody has been in jail.. If this three accused will go to jail then we will believe that there is justice in the Philippines.