Roxas: PNP won’t ‘humiliate’ solons in plunder case

Bea Cupin

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Roxas: PNP won’t ‘humiliate’ solons in plunder case
The DILG secretary – and Liberal Party president-on-leave – says the PNP will 'act and perform professionally' in arresting and detaining the 3 opposition senators charged in the pork barrel scam

MANILA, Philippines – “Hindi po ito pagkakataon para pahiyan ang kahit sino, para tanggalan ng dignidad ang kahit sino.”

(This will not be used as a means to shame or humiliate anyone.)

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday, June 13, assured critics that the possible arrest of 3 opposition senators on plunder charges would not be used as leverage for the ruling Liberal Party (LP).

The DILG secretary is also the LP’s president-on-leave and considered party standard bearer in the 2016 presidential race.

Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla, and Jinggoy Estrada and several others face plunder and graft charges before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan for allegedly pocketing part of their pork barrel funds through fake projects and bogus non-governmental organizations. (READ: Ahead of arrest, Enrile pleads for liberty)

Plunder is a non-bailable crime.

The alleged mastermind of the so-called pork barrel scam, Janet Lim Napoles, has also been charged but is already under detention for separate kidnapping charges.

Once the anti-graft court issues warrants of arrest for those involved in the scam, they will likely be whisked off to the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame to be booked and temporarily detained at the PNP Custodial Center. (READ: From posh villages to a cell)

“The PNP will act and perform professionally. [We will follow] yung normal operational procedures para hindi na tayo mailagay sa kung anong intriga. We will follow all the rules for the usual detainees,” said Roxas at a press conference at Camp Crame.

(We will follow normal operating procedures to avoid controversy.)

What politics?

Roxas also dismissed criticism that the prosecution of the 3 senators, who are all members of the opposition, is related to the 2016 presidential elections. “Ulitin ko lang, kung i-rewind natin itong lahat: Paano natin masasabing political persecution ito? Ang nagsimula po nito is yung away between Benhur Luy and Janet Napoles,” he said.

'NOT END.' Revilla tells Estrada and Enrile that their arrest will not be their end because God prepared something better for them. Photo by Alex Nuevaespaña/Senate PRIB

(Let’s go back to where it all began: How can they say it’s political persecution? This all started when Benhur Luy and Janet Napoles started fighting.)

Roxas was referring to the squabble between Napoles and Luy, who used to be the alleged scam mastermind’s aide. Luy has since turned state witness.

Napoles allegedly had Luy detained in December 2012 after she discovered his “side projects” – pocketing pork barrel funds through projects of his own. Luy was rescued by the National Bureau of Investigation in March 2013, and later sued Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim for serious illegal detention.

The corruption scandal was later exposed to the public a few months later – in July 2013.

Roxas said the plunder and graft cases, which were filed by the Ombudsman before the Sandiganyanbayan, are all based on sworn testimonies and evidence.

Kahit ano mang chaleko ang suot ng kahit sino, ebidensiya ang siyang iiral kung ma fifile-an ng charges,” said Roxas. (It doesn’t matter what political party someone comes from. Charges will be based on evidence.)

Roxas visits custodial center

The PNP is ready for the possible arrest of the 3 – and even the 51 others who will also be charged with plunder and graft. Its custodial center, Roxas said, was renovated to prepare for the 54.

READY. The PNP Custodial Center can accommodate up to 130 detainees at a time. File photo by Rappler

Again denying that the 3 would be given special treatment, Roxas said there are no air-conditioned cells in the center. 

Besides, the custodial center is only a “temporary” detention center since the court will eventually decide on where they will be jailed while the case is being heard.

Although it’s supposed to be just a “temporary” detention center, in practice, it’s anything but. Some detainees in the custodial center have been staying there for years.

Roxas admitted he visited the custodial center over the weekend and told reporters that he checked the facilities, and even visited generals still detained there.

The possible arrest of the 3 will not impede legislative work, Senate President Franklin Drilon said in a previous interview. The 3 will be under preventive suspension for 90 days, but can resume work thereafter.

“After 90 days, they can file bills and hold hearings, even if in detention. That was the case of Senator [Antonio] Trillanes. He was detained but he was not preventively suspended and therefore he continued to perform the functions of a senator – file bills, conduct committee hearings,” Drilon said earlier.

Roxas refused to speculate on how the 3 would work while under detention, but said they “will follow the court’s order [and] the directives of the Senate.”

Roxas’ own experience echoes Drilon’s statements. When Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was detained at the custodial center, he said President Benigno Aquino III, who was then a senator, and Roxas himself went to Camp Crame to hold meetings with the former rebel soldier. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.