MANILA, Philippines – Rappler talks to one of the Philippines’ foremost human rights lawyers, Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno.
Kicking off what may prove to be a lengthy and historical judicial case, the Ombudsman filed plunder charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Filed before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on June 6, 2014, the senators were accused of pocketing illegal commissions in exchange for the misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel, which was funneled to fake non-governmental organizations linked to Napoles. (READ: 3 PH senators charged with plunder over PDAF scam)
Revilla was charged with collecting the biggest kickback at P224 million, followed by Estrada at P183 million, and Enrile at P172 million. The Ombudsman said there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.
On June 13, 2014, the Sandiganbayan raffled the plunder and graft cases of the three senators. Revilla’s cases ended up with the 1st division, Enrile’s with the 3rd division, and Estrada’s with the 5th division.
Revilla and Estrada are now detained in Camp Crame. Police authorities have said they are ready for a possible hospital arrest for the 90-year-old Enrile.
What comes next?
Diokno will walk Rappler through the judicial processes that will follow, explain the implications of recent attempts by the prosecution to amend the charge sheets against the accused, and forecast what lies ahead.
Diokno is the founding Dean of the De La Salle University College of Law and served as Special Counsel of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in 2001. He was a private prosecutor in the impeachment proceedings against former president Joseph Estrada. In 2011, Diokno was formally nominated to the post of Ombudsman and in 2012, was part of the Judicial and Bar Council’s shortlist of nominees for the Supreme Court.
Watch the interview below.
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