Philippine senators face suspension

April 23, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

MANILA:  Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Bong Revilla Jr are facing automatic suspension once the Sandiganbayan finds probable case on the plunder complaint filed against them and more than 30 others in relation with the Priority Development Allocation Fund  misuse.

Senate President Franklin Drilon did not rule out this possibility once the Sandiganbayan finds merit in the filing of plunder complaint against the three incumbent senators and issues the warrants of arrest against them.

Drilon issued the statement when asked whether he thinks the 24-member Senate will still be complete once it resumes from the Holy Week break on May 4.

 “That will be up to the Sandiganbayan, which has the power to issue the warrant of arrest,” Drilon said. Drilon noted that the plunder complaint is a non-bailable offense, which would warrant the detention of the respondents even as the Sandiganbayan is still hearing the case.

Drilon cited the case of a certain Governor Veloso, where the Supreme Court ruled that public officials will get automatic suspension upon the filing of the prosecution of the appropriate decision before the Sandiganbayan.

 “Once the case is filed. So assuming that the case is elevated before the Sandiganbayan, first, I repeat, the Sandiganbayan has the powers to issue the warrants of arrest and that this is a non-bailable offense,” Drilon said.

 “Secondly, this warrants for automatic suspension [which happens] the moment that the Ombudsman files the petition to suspend those accused as public officials,” Drilon said.

Drilon said the issue will be out of the hands of the Senate leadership since it will be the Sandiganbayan that will be issuing the suspension orders.

 “Well, I am sure that the Sandiganbayan will act, or will have to act on it. That’s their job. So we will just wait for the action of the Ombudsman on the motions for recommendation which were filed on the first week of April,” Drilon said in Filipino.

At the same time, Drilon also welcomed the move of lawyer Gigi Reyes,  Enrile’s former chief of staff, to return to the country to defend herself against accusations of PDAF misuse.

Drilon said Reyes made the good move to subject herself to the legal processes in the country where “the guilty are jailed and the innocents are acquitted.”

The Philippine Star