Suspend Enrile as senator, court asked

NOT YET SUSPENDED. Detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile continues to discharge his duties as senator in the absence of any order suspending him. File photo by Rappler

NOT YET SUSPENDED. Detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile continues to discharge his duties as senator in the absence of any order suspending him.

File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines - Government prosecutors asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to suspend from the Senate detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile as a result of the graft and plunder charges filed against him.

In a motion filed Monday, July 14, prosecutors said Enrile's suspension from office is meant to "preserve the integrity of the prosecution of the accused by preventing him from intimidating or influencing witnesses or tampering [with] documentary evidence, and to avoid further malfeasance while in office."

The Ombudsman earlier filed plunder and graft charges against Enrile for allegedly pocketing millions of government funds meant for development projects in the countryside under the lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The corruption scandal that broke in 2013 led to the abolition of PDAF and to the cases now being handled by the anti-graft court.

Enrile is presently under hospital arrest at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in Camp Crame.

Under the law, public officials facing plunder charges are suspended from office.

Prosecutors earlier asked the court to suspend Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr and Jinggoy Estrada as both also face plunder and graft charges in connection with the same corruption scam.

The court has not decided on the motion. - Rappler.com