Prosecutors in the 15-count graft suit against Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile in connection with the pork barrel scam asked the Sandiganbayan to suspend his co-defendants, Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and nine others, while the case is being investigated.
Aside from Relampagos, the other defendants are Rosario Nuñez, chief of the Budget and Management Specialists, Budget Administrative Assistants Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare and officials of the implementing agencies that served as the conduits of Enrile’s pork barrel-funded projects.
In asking for the suspension of Relampagos, the prosecutors said Section 13 of the Anti-Graft Law (Republic Act 3019), “unequivocally provides that the accused public official shall be suspended from office while the criminal prosecution is pending in court…there are no ifs and buts about it.”
In their pleading, the government lawyers did not specify the length of the suspension, but the Anti-Graft Law provides for 90 days.
“The court has neither the discretion nor the duty to determine whether preventive suspension is required to prevent the accused from using his office to frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in office,” the prosecutors said.
The officials of the implementing agencies are Technology Resource Center (TRC) Chief Accountant Marivic Jover, National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) President Gondelina Amata, NLDC Directors Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal and Chita Jalandoni, NLDC Project Development Officer Sofia Cruz and employee Gregoria Buenaventura.
Relampagos, Nuñez, Paule and Bare, who are named in all 15 counts of graft, refused to enter any plea last week and the court entered a not guilty plea for them.
Jover, Amata, Sevidal, Jalandoni, Cruz, and Buenaventura pleaded not guilty last September.
The 90-year-old senator is accused of misusing P345 million in public funds.