Ombudsman to SC: Create special divisions for PDAF cases
MANILA, Philippines – Given their national magnitude and far-reaching consequences, the cases against 3 opposition senators in relation to the pork barrel scam must be tried exclusively by at least two special divisions in the Sandiganbayan.
This was the request of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to Chief Justice Marie Lourdes Sereno Friday, June 6.
Morales wrote to Sereno pointing out that "the complexities of the issues involved, the number of accused" in the multi-million-peso pork barrel scam requires the creation of two special divisions in the anti-graft court.
The scam is the country's biggest corruption scandal in recent years. It involves the diversion of lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects of dubious non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The PDAF is a lump sum intended for community development projects .
Senators Juan "JPE" Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada were charged with plunder before the Sandiganbayan on Friday. (READ: 3 PH senators charged with plunder over PDAF scam)
Janet Napoles, the alleged scam mastermind who controlled the fake NGOs, was also charged.
Morales' request to the country's chief magistrate cited as precedent an SC resolution dated January 21, 2002 in relation to the plunder case against former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Ejercito Estrada.
The 2002 SC resolution created a special division in the Sandiganbayan to hear and decide the plunder case and other cases filed against Estrada and his co-defendants.
In her letter, Morales also cited Section 5, paragraph 5, Article VIII of the Constitution that states the SC has the power to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts.
Morales also said the internal rules of the Sandiganbayan allows for the creation of special divisions within the court “where compelling reasons and the interest of justice so require.”
More charges are set to be filed against Enrile, Revilla, and Estrada next week, specifically in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
In addition, the Ombudsman is still trying to determine if there is probable cause to charge others involved in the scam.
The DOJ is ready to file its 3rd batch of complaints before the Ombudsman in relation to the scam. – Rappler.com