DRILON: SENATE WILL FUNCTION WITHOUT 3 SENATORS

Life will go on at the Senate without Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla, according to Senate President Franklin Drilon. Should the three be arrested in connection with the pork barrel scam, Drilon said he and the rest of the senators in the 24-member chamber would press ahead with their job of crafting laws. To keep the legislative mill running, other senators would take over the chairmanship of committees held by any of the three senators, Drilon said, referring to the vice chairpersons. “We will continue to function,’’ Drilon told reporters Friday afternoon. The three senators are facing arrest on plunder charges filed against them in the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the scam. The Senate president said he doubted the arrest would affect the morale of the senators. “This thing has been in the media for months. So I don’t think it will make any difference at this point. We will continue to work because, you know, senators come and go; the Senate will stay as an institution,’’ he said. After all, each senator has the responsibility to ensure the Senate remains an “institution of democracy,’’ he added. Eventually, the Sandiganbayan would issue an order preventively suspending the three based on the Ombudsman motion, and the Senate has no choice but to comply, Drilon said.READ MORE...

ALSO: Enrile, Estrada, Revilla indicted; Napoles, 5 others also charged in P10-B plunder of pork

Seven weeks before President Benigno Aquino III makes his annual report to the nation, the Ombudsman on Friday indicted Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr., businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and five others in the Sandiganbayan for plunder over the P10-billion pork barrel scam. It was the biggest and highest profile case to be brought by the administration of President Aquino to court since he was elected to office in 2010 on an anticorruption platform. These nine individuals constitute the first batch to be formally charged by the Ombudsman since the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation filed plunder charges against them and 29 other people last year. The three senators and Napoles, the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam, and five other people stockpiled a combined total of P581 million in kickbacks through the diversion of pork barrel funds to bogus foundations from 2004 to 2012. Malacañang and the Senate leadership viewed the indictment of the three senators for plunder “as a step forward” in calling to account the people responsible for the massive fraud that angered the nation after the Inquirer exposed it in a series of reports last year.
The public indignation exploded in a mammoth rally against official corruption at Manila’s Luneta Park on Aug. 26, 2013, and later, the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which Napoles, legislators and several government officials allegedly misused to amass ill-gotten wealth. President Aquino promised to call to account all those responsible for the plunder of the PDAF, which, although derisively called pork barrel, channeled funds to projects for rural development. He delivered on Friday.READ MORE...

(ALSO) Jinggoy: Plunder charges filed in time for SONA

Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who is facing plunder charges for the second time over his alleged involvement in the P10-billion priority development assistance fund scam, said on Saturday that the Ombudsman rushed to file the case before the Sandiganbayan to make it in time for President Benigno Aquino III's State of the Nation Address (SONA). "Baka hinahabol nila na makulong kami bago mag-SONA si Presidente Aquino," Estrada said in a radio interview. On Friday, the Office of the Ombudsman lodged plunder charges against Estrada, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Senato Ramon 'Bong' Revilla, Jr., businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, Revilla's chief-of-staff Richard Cambe, Enrile former aide Jessica 'Gigi' Reyes and Estrada's former aid Pauline Labayen before the Sandiganbayan. The Ombudsman said the seven were accused of "willfully, unlawfully, and criminally amass, accumulate and/or acquire ill-gotten wealth" through "a combination or series of overt criminal acts." Estrada said that it was obvious that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales denied them due process when she acted swiftly in filing the cases before the anti-graft court. "Siyempre ibabandera kaming tatlo. Ngayon napakulong na ng isang presidente, tatlong senador sa kanilang anti corruption drive," he said, also referring to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City for her alleged misuse of P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds during her term. Estrada said, however, that he will not flee and he is ready to surrender once his warrant of arrest has been released."Wala naman tayong magagawa kung talagang aarestuhin kami e. E ako naman kusang susuko sa kanila kung mayroon talagang ilabas na warrant of arrest ang Sandiganbayan," he said. Estrada was previously charged with plunder in 2001 along with his father, former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito-Estrada. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Senator Estrada willing to go to jail, ‘just spare aging Enrile’

Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada appealed on Saturday not to put Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile in jail, citing his old age. “Siyempre 90 years (old) na ang tao. Nakakaawa naman kahit paano. Sana huwag na nilang ikulong. Hayaan mo na kaming makulong, huwag na lang si Manong Johnny (Of course he is 90 years old. It’s a pitiful situation. I hope they won’t put him in jail. Let them jail me [and my co-accused], spare Senator Enrile),” Estrada said in a radio interview. Estrada, Enrile and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and other individuals have been charged with plunder at the Sandiganbayan in connection with the “pork barrel” scam. Estrada reiterated that he was willing to surrender himself to authorities once the warrant of arrest was issued against them. “Wala naman tayong magagawa diyan kung talagang aarestuhin kami. Ako naman kusang susuko sa kanila kung mayroong ilabas na warrant of arrest ang Sandiganbayan (I can’t do anything if they’re going to arrest me. I’ll surrender myself voluntarily if they will issue a warrant of arrest from the Sandiganbayan),” he said.READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Sandigan, not Palace, to decide on ‘pork’ scam jail’

The Sandiganbayan, not Malacañang, will decide where Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. will be jailed if and when warrants for their arrest are issued and they are arrested, a Palace official said yesterday. The three opposition senators are facing plunder charges before the anti-graft court for alleged misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund. Also charged were suspected pork barrel scam architect Janet Lim-Napoles and Enrile’s former chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes. Plunder is a non-bailable offense. “It’s up to the court. Let’s just wait for the court to decide on that matter,” Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office told state-run dzRB. Coloma issued the statement following reports that Camp Crame has been set as the detention facility for the senators. Malacañang had earlier denied ordering the Philippine National Police (PNP) to prepare the holding rooms for Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, saying it was just coincidental. “I don’t think so. I remember them (police officials) saying that it coincided with the current issues that they were fixing up I think some of their facilities,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said. Valte said the court, and not the executive department, will determine where the senators will be detained. READ MORE...

 


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Drilon: Senate to function even without 3 senators



Senate President Franklin Drilon. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, JUNE 9, 2014 (INQUIRER) By TJ Burgonio —Life will go on at the Senate without Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla, according to Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Should the three be arrested in connection with the pork barrel scam, Drilon said he and the rest of the senators in the 24-member chamber would press ahead with their job of crafting laws.

To keep the legislative mill running, other senators would take over the chairmanship of committees held by any of the three senators, Drilon said, referring to the vice chairpersons.

“We will continue to function,’’ Drilon told reporters Friday afternoon. The three senators are facing arrest on plunder charges filed against them in the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the scam.

The Senate president said he doubted the arrest would affect the morale of the senators.

“This thing has been in the media for months. So I don’t think it will make any difference at this point. We will continue to work because, you know, senators come and go; the Senate will stay as an institution,’’ he said.

After all, each senator has the responsibility to ensure the Senate remains an “institution of democracy,’’ he added.

Eventually, the Sandiganbayan would issue an order preventively suspending the three based on the Ombudsman motion, and the Senate has no choice but to comply, Drilon said.

During the 90-day preventive suspension, the senators are detained by virtue of the warrant of arrest. Hence, they could not file bills and resolutions, hold hearings, deliver privilege speeches, and vote on the floor, he explained.

Their staff, being employees of the Senate, would keep their jobs.

Only after their suspension expires could the senators reclaim some of their functions, such as filing bills, holding hearings and signing committee reports behind bars, Drilon said.

Congress is adjourning on Wednesday. It will reconvene for the second regular session of the 16th Congress in late July.

Revilla’s staff has divulged a plan by the senator to deliver a privilege speech, possibly on a matter related to the scam, on Monday afternoon.

But on that same day, Drilon said, the chamber would approve six bills on final reading.

Enrile, Estrada, Revilla indicted By Gil Cabacungan and TJ Burgonio Philippine Daily Inquirer
4:10 am | Saturday, June 7th, 2014


READ ALL ABOUT IT The headlines that unraveled the systemic and widespread corruption involving pork barrel funds of lawmakers, starting with the Inquirer series last year and culminating in Friday’s filing of plunder charges against nine persons, the first batch to be formally charged since the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation filed plunder charges against them and 29 others last year.

Napoles, 5 others also charged in P10-B plunder of pork

Seven weeks before President Benigno Aquino III makes his annual report to the nation, the Ombudsman on Friday indicted Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr., businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and five others in the Sandiganbayan for plunder over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

It was the biggest and highest profile case to be brought by the administration of President Aquino to court since he was elected to office in 2010 on an anticorruption platform.

These nine individuals constitute the first batch to be formally charged by the Ombudsman since the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation filed plunder charges against them and 29 other people last year.

The three senators and Napoles, the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam, and five other people stockpiled a combined total of P581 million in kickbacks through the diversion of pork barrel funds to bogus foundations from 2004 to 2012.

Malacañang and the Senate leadership viewed the indictment of the three senators for plunder “as a step forward” in calling to account the people responsible for the massive fraud that angered the nation after the Inquirer exposed it in a series of reports last year.

The public indignation exploded in a mammoth rally against official corruption at Manila’s Luneta Park on Aug. 26, 2013, and later, the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which Napoles, legislators and several government officials allegedly misused to amass ill-gotten wealth.

President Aquino promised to call to account all those responsible for the plunder of the PDAF, which, although derisively called pork barrel, channeled funds to projects for rural development.

He delivered on Friday.

Charged with plunder

At 3 p.m. officials from the Office of the Ombudsman filed in the Sandiganbayan three sets of “Information for Plunder” against Enrile (docket number SB-14CRM-0238), Revilla (SB-14CRM-0240) and Estrada (SB-14CRM-0239) and their coaccused—Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes (Enrile’s former chief of staff), Richard Cambe (Revilla’s chief of staff), and Paulene Therese Mary C. Labayen (Estrada’s deputy chief of staff); Napoles, her fugitive brother, John Ronald Lim, and her driver-bodyguard, John Raymond de Asis.

The Ombudsman said additional charges would be filed against them next week for graft and corruption.

In the cover letters, the Ombudsman graft investigaton and prosecution officer accused Enrile, Revilla, Estrada, Napoles and their coaccused of plunder.

The Ombudsman accused the three senators of “conspiring” with their principal employees and Napoles and her henchmen of “willfully, unlawfully, criminally amassing, accumulating and/or acquiring ill-gotten wealth… through a combination of overt criminal acts.”

Millions in kickbacks

The Ombudsman claimed that Enrile, Revilla and Estrada or their staff officers “repeatedly received kickbacks or commissions before, during, and after project identification.”

In Enrile’s case, the Ombudsman charged that the former Senate president amassed P172.834 million from 2003 to 2010 in collaboration with Reyes, Napoles, Lim and De Asis.

In Revilla’s case, the Ombudsman said the movie actor-turned-senator collected P224.512 million from 2006 to 2010 in collusion with Cambe, Napoles, Lim and De Asis.

Estrada was accused of hoarding P183.795 million in commissions from 2004 to 2012 in connivance with Labayen, Napoles and De Asis.

Special divisions needed

While the case waits to be raffled off next week, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales this early has asked Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno to create “at least two special divisions [in the Sandiganbayan] to exclusively try and conduct continuous trial” of the PDAF cases.

In her letter to Sereno, Morales cited as compelling reasons the “national magnitude of these cases, the complexities of the issues involved, the number of accused and the far-reaching consequences of these cases.”

Morales cited as precedent a Supreme Court decision in 2002 that ordered the creation of a special Sandiganbayan division to handle the plunder case of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and his coaccused.

To expedite the trial, Morales formed three four-member teams under the supervision of Deputy Special Prosecutor John Turalba and Acting Deputy Special Prosecutor Manuel Soriano Jr. to handle the prosecution of the nine accused.

The three teams are led by Acting Director Janina Hidalgo (the team members are Assistant Special Prosecutors Edwin Gomez, Jennifer Agustin-Se and Annielyn Medes-Cabellis) for Enrile; Acting Director Danilo Lopez (the members are Assistant Special Prosecutors Christina Marallag-Batacan, Anna Isabel Aurellano and Peter Jedd Boco) for Estrada; and acting Director Joefferson Toribio (the members are Assistant Special Prosecutors Jacinto de la Cruz, Lyn Dimayuga and Emerita Francia) for Revilla.

‘A process we must accept’

Malacanang said the filing of charges against the three senators and their coaccused was “a step forward” in calling to account those responsible for the pork barrel scam.

“It is a step forward in the determination of the truth, which will be the basis for exacting accountability under our justice system,” Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, said in a text message.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the filing of charges against the three senators was “part of the constitutional and legal process, which we must accept.”

“The search for the truth may be painful, but this is a process that strengthens our government institutions and reinforces the trust and confidence of our people in our justice system,” Drilon said in a statement.

After all, he added, “[ours is] a government of laws, not of men. And no one is above the law.”
To face the charges

Estrada, Enrile and Revilla have consistently expressed readiness to face the charges in court.

“I will go wherever they want me to go and surrender,” Estrada said on Thursday, indicating he would not resist arrest.
But he could not be reached for comment yesterday after the Ombudsman filed charges against him.

“He’s saddened by the filing of the case,” said Joel Bodegon, a lawyer for Revilla.

‘Haste makes waste’

Bodegon said in a phone interview that the Ombudsman filed the charges even after the Supreme Court ordered the antigraft watchdog to comment on Revilla’s petition for a “proper preliminary investigation.”

“Haste makes waste,” he said.

Bodegon said Revilla was to file a motion for judicial determination of probable cause and deferment of proceedings in the Sandiganbayan yesterday, but didn’t beat the deadline.

He said Revilla would comply with court orders, but wanted to “exhaust all legal remedies” first.

Enrile’s staff said the senator would not issue a statement.

Antipork barrel activist Peachy Bretaña, one of those who called last year’s Luneta march through social media, said she hoped the prosecutors would not let the cases get stuck and instead counter dilatory tactics that the accused could be expected to resort to.

The filing of the charges, she said, will appease the public’s anger “for the time being.”

She said she was looking forward to the arrest of all those charged in court.

Next step

In an interview earlier this week, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the nation had been waiting for nearly a year for the filing of charges against the people responsible for the pork barrel scam.

“The people are waiting [for] the next step in this [search for] accountability,” Lacierda said. “It [has] to come from the Ombudsman.”

He added: “The decision of the Ombudsman, whoever will be [charged], moves us closer to accountability.”

Their day in court

“The Sandiganbayan will now hear and decide the case. The defense will be given its day in court to present its witnesses and evidence,” Drilon said.

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

Drilon urged the Filipinos to remain vigilant “so that speedy and impartial justice [will be] served.”

“Whatever the outcome, our government now has the opportunity to show that we have a functioning legal system that can render fair, speedy and impartial justice,” he said. With a report from Leila B. Salaverria

FROM PHILSTAR

Jinggoy: Plunder charges filed in time for SONA (philstar.com) | Updated June 7, 2014 - 5:07pm 3 157 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who is facing plunder charges for the second time over his alleged involvement in the P10-billion priority development assistance fund scam, said on Saturday that the Ombudsman rushed to file the case before the Sandiganbayan to make it in time for President Benigno Aquino III's State of the Nation Address (SONA).

"Baka hinahabol nila na makulong kami bago mag-SONA si Presidente Aquino," Estrada said in a radio interview.

On Friday, the Office of the Ombudsman lodged plunder charges against Estrada, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Senato Ramon 'Bong' Revilla, Jr., businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, Revilla's chief-of-staff Richard Cambe, Enrile former aide Jessica 'Gigi' Reyes and Estrada's former aid Pauline Labayen before the Sandiganbayan.

The Ombudsman said the seven were accused of "willfully, unlawfully, and criminally amass, accumulate and/or acquire ill-gotten wealth" through "a combination or series of overt criminal acts."

Estrada said that it was obvious that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales denied them due process when she acted swiftly in filing the cases before the anti-graft court.

"Siyempre ibabandera kaming tatlo. Ngayon napakulong na ng isang presidente, tatlong senador sa kanilang anti corruption drive," he said, also referring to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is currently detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City for her alleged misuse of P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds during her term.

Estrada said, however, that he will not flee and he is ready to surrender once his warrant of arrest has been released.

"Wala naman tayong magagawa kung talagang aarestuhin kami e. E ako naman kusang susuko sa kanila kung mayroon talagang ilabas na warrant of arrest ang Sandiganbayan," he said.

Estrada was previously charged with plunder in 2001 along with his father, former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito-Estrada.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Senator Estrada willing to go to jail, ‘just spare aging Enrile’
By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net 9:54 am | Saturday, June 7th, 2014


Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile and Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada appealed on Saturday not to put Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile in jail, citing his old age.

“Siyempre 90 years (old) na ang tao. Nakakaawa naman kahit paano. Sana huwag na nilang ikulong. Hayaan mo na kaming makulong, huwag na lang si Manong Johnny (Of course he is 90 years old. It’s a pitiful situation. I hope they won’t put him in jail. Let them jail me [and my co-accused], spare Senator Enrile),” Estrada said in a radio interview.
Estrada, Enrile and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and other individuals have been charged with plunder at the Sandiganbayan in connection with the “pork barrel” scam.

Estrada reiterated that he was willing to surrender himself to authorities once the warrant of arrest was issued against them.

“Wala naman tayong magagawa diyan kung talagang aarestuhin kami. Ako naman kusang susuko sa kanila kung mayroong ilabas na warrant of arrest ang Sandiganbayan (I can’t do anything if they’re going to arrest me. I’ll surrender myself voluntarily if they will issue a warrant of arrest from the Sandiganbayan),” he said.

He said he would not also mind if the warrant of arrest would be served whether inside or outside the Senate building.

“Ok lang. Ako naman kusa akong susuko. Sabihin lang nila kung saan nila ako gustong papuntahin. Madali akong kausapin. Kung sabihin ng pulis o ng sheriff ng Sandiganbayan, ‘Oy Senador, pumunta ka dito sa Sandigan o sa Camp Crame.’ Pupunta ako. ‘May warrant of arrest ka na.’ Walang problema sa akin iyon. I will not evade arrest,” he said.

(It’s OK. I’ll voluntarily surrender myself. All they have to do is tell me where they want me to go. I am easy to talk with. If the police or the sheriff of the Sandiganbayan told me to go to Sandigan or Camp Crame, I’d go there. If they told me they have warrant of arrest, I have no problem with that, I will not evade arrest).

“Ang masakit lang, ang mga anak ko, asawa ko, ang mga magulang ko, lalung-lalo na mayroon akong anak na maliit pa na lagi kong kasamang matulog. Wala pang kamuwang-muwang sa pulitika iyon. Walang kamuwang-muwang sa mga nangyayari sa tatay niya. Iyon ang masakit sa akin.”

“(What would hurt me the most are my children, my wife, my parents, especially my younger children, those who would sleep beside me at night. They are innocent when it comes to politics. They are clueless to what’s happening with their father. That hurts me the most).”

FROM PHILSTAR

‘Sandigan, not Palace, to decide on ‘pork’ scam jail’ By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 9, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan, not Malacañang, will decide where Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. will be jailed if and when warrants for their arrest are issued and they are arrested, a Palace official said yesterday.

The three opposition senators are facing plunder charges before the anti-graft court for alleged misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund. Also charged were suspected pork barrel scam architect Janet Lim-Napoles and Enrile’s former chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes. Plunder is a non-bailable offense.

“It’s up to the court. Let’s just wait for the court to decide on that matter,” Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office told state-run dzRB.

Coloma issued the statement following reports that Camp Crame has been set as the detention facility for the senators.

Malacañang had earlier denied ordering the Philippine National Police (PNP) to prepare the holding rooms for Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, saying it was just coincidental.

“I don’t think so. I remember them (police officials) saying that it coincided with the current issues that they were fixing up I think some of their facilities,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

Valte said the court, and not the executive department, will determine where the senators will be detained.

“That will be up to the discretion of the Sandiganbayan,” she said.

Meanwhile, the PNP is ready to arrest the senators and other individuals tagged in the pork barrel scam if the anti-graft court orders them to do so.

“The PNP is ready for any eventuality. In case we will be directed, we will implement the arrest order,” said Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, spokesman for the PNP chief.

Mayor said the new facilities inside the Custodial Center at Camp Crame are not intended for the senators but “for anyone who may be ordered arrested by the court.”

“We just want to be prepared,” he said.

The criminal complaints against Enrile, Estrada and Revilla were filed on Friday after the Office of the Ombudsman junked their motions for reconsideration.

The cases are expected to be raffled to Sandiganbayan divisions this week.

Unperturbed by protests

Malacañang is not bothered by threats of massive protests in relation to the pork barrel scandal, Coloma said.

He encouraged the people to make their sentiments known, saying suggestions on improving good governance are welcome.

“Iginagalang natin ang karapatan ng ating mga mamamayan na magtipon-tipon at ipahayag ang kanilang mga saloobin sa mga usapin o isyu na kinakaharap ng bayan. Ito ay tanda o senyales ng isang masiglang demokrasya (We respect the right of the people to air their sentiments on issues facing the nation. It is a sign of democracy),” Coloma said.

Anti-pork barrel scam groups are planning to mount protest actions coinciding with the Independence Day celebrations on Thursday. –With Cecille Suerte Felipe


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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