Enrile ready for Crame; Jinggoy to give speech, too

MANILA, Philippines – After Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr’s surprise song and speech rolled into one, privilege hour at the Senate is not yet over with Senator Jinggoy Estrada also set to take the floor soon.

Before Revilla delivered his speech on Monday, June 9, Estrada announced that he too is set to respond to the plunder charges filed against them over the pork barrel scam by way of privilege speech on Wednesday, June 11, the last session day before the month-long break.

Masyado nilang minabilis ang kaso. Mukha yatang hindi binasa iyong aming motion for reconsideration. And I disagree doon sa kanyang sinabi na wala akong bagong arguments,” Estrada said referring to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

(They expedited the filing of the case. It seems they did not read our motion for reconsideration. And I disagree with what she said that we did not raise new arguments.)

While Revilla and Estrada are turning emotional over their likely arrest, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said he is ready to spend time in jail.

“Of course, I’ve been prepared since several days ago. I’ve already packed up my things to bring it to Camp Crame if that’s where we are going to be [detained],” Enrile told reporters.

Estrada appealed that Enrile be spared from arrest with his old age. But the former senate president said there was no need for the request. “I thank them but I’m prepared. Even if I’ll die in my cell, it’s okay. At my age, I got through life already.”

Estrada has already delivered two privilege speeches about the scam: one in September 2013 and the other in March 2014 to criticize the Aquino administration's alleged meddling in the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, and to attack the credibility of witnesses Ruby Tuason and Dennis Cunanan. 

Estrada said he will meet with his lawyers Monday night to plan the filing of motions before the Sandiganbayan to stop the issuance of an arrest warrant against him.

The Ombudsman on Friday, June 6, formally charged the 3 opposition senators with plunder before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

Nothing new

The 90-year-old Enrile is no stranger to arrests and controversy. In 1990, he was arrested for the charge rebellion complexed with murder for allegedly participating in the 1989 coup attempt against the Cory Aquino presidency.

In 2001, the former defense minister was also arrested for the charge of inciting to sedition after then President Glora Macapagal Arroyo declared a state of rebellion when supporters of Enrile’s ally, ousted President Joseph Estrada, stormed Malacañang in an attempt to remove her from power. (READ: At 90, Enrile a bundle of contradictions)

Enrile said, “I was served the warrant here in the Senate in 1990. It was here in the Senate that I was arrested. The second time I was arrested in 2001 was at my house. I went with General [Reynaldo] Berroya.”

Senate President Franklin Drilon though said he will request the Sandiganbayan’s sheriff or law enforcement officers not to arrest the 3 senators at the Senate out of “institutional courtesy.”

The likely arrest of Revilla, Estrada and Enrile will be a rare moment in Philippine history where top officials will be sent to jail for alleged corruption.

The 3 are accused of conniving with scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to divert development funds meant for the poor to bogus non-governmental organizations in exchange for millions of pesos in kickbacks.

‘Gigi Reyes and I will prove innocence’

Now that the case is in the jurisdiction of the courts, Enrile said it will be time for him to respond after months of silence in the media. He said he and his former chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes will be vindicated. (READ: The 'boss' and Gigi Reyes)

“This will give us a chance to prove that we are indeed innocent of the charges filed against us and we’ll have a chance to show that Mrs Reyes, my staff did not receive any money [for] me or for her and so it’s good that we are given the opportunity to use the proper forum to discharge all of these speculation, all of these charges, all of these things that are being thrown at us,” Enrile said.

The former Senate President said he will cooperate with authorities but use legal options.

“Why should I resist [arrest]? I am a lawyer, I know the process, why should I resist? I have no reason to resist,” Enrile said.

“We would have to exhaust all remedies. If you’re a seasoned lawyer, you will use all the available remedies to defend yourself.

Asked if he will request for hospital or house arrest owing to his old age and illness, he said, “I leave it to the government.”

Enrile has suffered from health problems like mascular degeneration and high blood pressure. 

Enrile supports Cayetano’s live TV proposal

In a rare occasion, Enrile agreed with the proposal of his rival, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, to have a live coverage of the pork barrel scam trial.

Cayetano said he is writing a letter to the Supreme Court, asking justices to study the possibility of airing the Sandiganbayan hearings on the scam live.

“All over the world, when there is live coverage, the community becomes part of the jury and it is easier to accept the decision because the people’s trust in the process goes up. Their trust in the institution and government is raised,” Cayetano said.

The majority leader asked the Court and the media to consider the idea, saying the pork barrel case can be an “experiment” whose results can be assessed.

Enrile was open to the suggestion. “That’s better so the people will know the truth.”

Enrile and Cayetano got into an ugly word war at the height of the Senate fund controversy in 2013, where the then Senate President brought up the supposed debts of Cayetano’s late father. The two have not been on good terms since.

Cayetano also used his proposal for the live coverage of the trial to again attack Enrile’s ally, Vice President Jejomar Binay. The presidential aspirant has been warning that Binay might allow his allies to get acquitted if he wins as president in 2016. Binay has dismissed the speculation

“One of the questions is: will [the trial] take 10 years, will it take 5 years? The other question is, what if their ally wins? The live coverage will answer all of this because the trial will be fast-tracked and all sides will make sure it is fair,” Cayetano said. – Rappler.com