Enrile to stand trial for P172-M plunder charge

Lian Buan

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Enrile to stand trial for P172-M plunder charge

Rob Reyes

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan affirms that there is probable cause to charge former senator Juan Ponce Enrile for plunder

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has affirmed the P172-million plunder case against former senator Juan Ponce Enrile stemming from his alleged misuse of pork barrel funds.

The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division promulgated its resolution junking Enrile’s motion to dismiss the case on Tuesday, January 31. The resolution was released to the media on Wednesday, February 1.

The 38-page resolution was penned by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang with concurring opinions from Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Zaldy Trespeses.

The court affirmed that there is probable cause to charge Enrile for plunder, and that the information filed against him sufficiently alleges that he conspired to commit the crime.

Enrile earlier filed a motion before the Supreme Court for prosecutors to provide him a bill of particulars, or  a more detailed account of allegations that would sufficiently charge him for plunder. In April 2016, the High Court granted Enrile’s motion.

The Sandiganbayan noted that when the SC granted Enrile’s motion, the High Court was reiterating that in filing the motion for a bill of particulars, Enrile had already admitted the information was sufficient, though “unclear.”

“Accused Enrile impliedly admits that the Information sufficiently alleged a crime but is unclear and lacking in details that would allow him to properly plead and prepare his defense; he essentially alleged here a defect of form,” the resolution read.

“The present motion to quash practically assails the above finding of the Supreme Court which had long attained finality. This simply cannot be done,” the court said.

The court also noted that it already ruled there was probable cause on July 3, 2014, but Enrile did not challenge this ruling.

Instead, the former senator appealed to the Supreme Court to grant him bail, which it did.

“In filing the motion for bail, accused Enrile effectively recognized the finding of probable cause by the Court. Thus, he is now barred from raising this issue especially at this late day,” the Sandiganbayan said. 

The 15 counts of graft charges against Enrile is already proceeding, with pre-trial set on June 26, 2017.

Enrile faces plunder and 15 counts of graft over the pork barrel corruption scandal. He is accused of pocketing P172 million in commissions when he allowed P345 million of his Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) to be diverted to fake non-governmental organizations.

Two other senators – Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr – are accused of the same crime. The PDAF scam is the biggest corruption scandal in recent history. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.