MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Friday afternoon, July 4, ordered the arrest of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and his former chief of staff lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes in connection with the graft and plunder charges filed against them by the Ombudsman.
The separate orders of arrest were issued by the court’s 3rd division headed by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang. Also covered by the orders were alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoes, who is already detained; John Raymond de Asis, who served as Napoles’ driver-bodyguard; and Ronald John Lim, nephew of Napoles.
He is the third Philippine senator to be arrested in the biggest corruption cases ever handled by the anti-graft court in recent history.
Enrile had been arrested before. In 1990, he was arrested for the charge of rebellion complexed with murder for allegedly participating in the 1989 coup attempt against then president Corazon Aquino.
Under the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the former defense minister was also arrested in 2001 for inciting to sedition. Arroyo had declared a state of rebellion then when supporters of Enrile’s ally, former president Joseph Estrada, stormed the Palace in an attempt to oust her. (READ: At 90, Enrile a bundle of contradictions)
Enrile was arrested in the Senate in 1990. In 2001, he was arrested in his house with then General Reynaldo Berroya.
The court said the orders were given to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
One of the 3 justices of the 3rd division – Justice Samuel Martires – drafted a separate concurring opinion on the resolution finding probable cause against them, insiders told Rappler. The 3rd member of the division is Justice Alex Quiroz.
Two others accused in the pork barrel scam, Jeanne Napoles and James Christopher (children of Napoles), were not served warrants since the court said the Ombudsman has to present more evidence against them.
The arrest orders come after almost a month after Enrile was charged for receiving millions of pesos in kickbacks from the illegal diversion of his discretionary fund to fake non-governmental organizations.
Enrile’s fellow opposition senators Ramon Revilla Jr and Jinggoy Estrada surrendered to authorities before their arrest warrants could be served and are now at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
An aide of Enrile told Rappler that he was ready to surrender to the anti-graft court. He also has a choice to go straight to Camp Crame, where he will undergo booking procedures.
Enrile’s camp is pushing for a hospital arrest for the 90-year-old senator. The PNP has prepared two rooms for him in its general hospital in Camp Crame. One of the rooms has an air-conditioning unit while the other has none.
On June 13, Enrile asked the Sandiganbayan to allow him to post bail, citing his “poor and frail condition requiring constant medical attention.” His long-time chief of staff, Reyes, also asked the court to suspend proceedings against her – a motion that the 3rd division rejected Friday as well.
Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla are accused of knowingly and financially gaining from allowing their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to be channeled to bogus NGOs controlled by Janet Lim Napoles, a co-accused in all their cases.
Napoles has been long assumed as the mastermind of the PDAF scam, the biggest corruption scandal in the country in recent years. – with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com
See related stories:
- Ombudsman withdraws amended charge sheet vs Enrile
- Is hospital arrest for Enrile ‘special treatment’?
- Hospital arrest for Enrile? PNP ready
- Aquino says Enrile ‘deserves consideration’ when jailed
- Enrile: I still believe in justice, ‘straight path’
Read more stories on Enrile here.