MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Ombudsman prosecutors sought on Monday, June 30, the suspension of Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and Jinggoy Estrada from the Senate while their trial for plunder is ongoing.
Revilla and Estrada are accused of knowingly and financially gaining from allowing their Priority Development Assistance Fund to be siphoned off to ghost projects hosted on paper by dubious non-governmental organizations.
They are charged with plunder and several counts of graft each before anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
On Monday afternoon, the prosecutors filed the necessary pleading before the court.
A similar motion to suspend is expected to be filed by the prosecutors against another opposition senator charged with plunder, Juan Ponce Enrile.
Citing Socrates vs Sandiganbayan, the prosecutors said it is mandatory for the anti-graft court to immediately issue a suspension order upon determining the validity of a charge sheet against a public official.
The court upheld the finding of probable cause against both Revilla and Estrada. The court has yet to issue its independent approval of Enrile's indictment.
Suspension based on law
The suspension of public officials charged with plunder is outlined in Section 5 of the Republic Act 7080, the country's plunder law.
The subject section provides that a public officer faced with a "valid" charge under the plunder law shall be suspended from public office pending his trial.
The plunder law says, “Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office.”
If convicted, the public officer will lose all retirement and gratuity benefits under law. If acquitted, on the other hand, the officer will be reinstated and will receive the salaries and benefits he didn't receive during his suspension.
The above-conditions remain, unless there are pending administrative proceedings against the officer. – Rappler.com