Latest Stories

Enrile, Revilla, Estrada vow to fight plunder raps


The Department of Justice on Monday filed plunder charges against (clockwise, top left) Janet Lim-Napoles, and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon Revilla Jr.

Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday vowed to fight off plunder charges in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

But Senate President Franklin Drilon indicated that the upper chamber would not seek custody of the senators, saying the matter was for the courts to decide, as in the case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Whether they will be suspended when they’re charged in court or when they’re convicted is a matter that would be studied by the Senate, Drilon said.

“My only appeal to you is not to prejudge me,” a teary-eyed Revilla told reporters from the session hall. He later added: “We will face the charges in court.”

Estrada, who fanned rumors he was flying to Hong Kong on Monday, turned up at the session hall and said he was staying in the country to face the charges.

“They’re trying to condition the minds of the public that we’re the worst thieves and I can’t accept that,” Estrada said of the charges, stressing he had no such record as a long-time public servant.

Otherwise, Estrada, who explained that he saw off somebody at the airport on Monday, said he had no plans to fly the coop.

Not a crime

Estrada said that endorsing a nongovernment organization (NGO) as a recipient of his pork barrel did not constitute a crime. He doubted that the charges would prosper if the erroneous audit report of the Commission on Audit were used as a basis.

“He was rushed to the hospital. He will fight this case in the courts,” Estrada said of Enrile, who was taken to the hospital days ago because of high blood pressure.

Enrile: ‘I’m innocent’

In a separate statement issued by his spokesperson last night, Enrile said the filing of plunder charges against him was regrettable, even as he professed innocence.

“I regret that the Department of Justice has filed this case after an incomplete, hasty and partial investigation,” Enrile said. “Let me make clear that I am innocent of the charges filed against me.”

Enrile said he trusted the Ombudsman to conduct a “thorough, complete and impartial investigation,” and vowed to cooperate with the investigation.

“It is with this trust that I will lay my case before her. I am therefore ready to fully and honestly cooperate with the investigation to discover not just the truth but the whole truth,” he said.

Senate custody ruled out

Before the filing of charges, Drilon ruled out the possibility of the Senate taking custody of the senators at any stage of the preliminary investigation or trial.

“I repeat that is not for us to determine. That is for the court to determine…. I have already demonstrated to you that in the case of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the court determined where she would be located,” he told reporters.

Arroyo, now lawmaker representing a district in her home province Pampanga, is detained at Veterans Memorial Medical Center while facing charges of electoral sabotage.

“She is under the physical custody of courts. She is confined in the hospital because that is where the court ordered that she be confined,” Drilon said.

The Senate President also said that the chamber would not provide any support for the senators, saying they were capable of defending themselves.

Estrada scoffed at this. “I’m not asking help from him,” he said.

Drilon also acknowledged that there was a difference of opinion on which stage of the court process would the senators be suspended, hence, the need for a study by the upper chamber.

Suspended once charged

Drilon earlier asserted that lawmakers could be suspended upon conviction.

But Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago insisted that they be suspended once the Ombudsman filed criminal charges against them in the Sandiganbayan.

“There is a provision in the plunder law which says that,” Drilon, referring to Santiago’s statement.

“There is also a provision in the Constitution which says matters of disciplining members of the House and the Senate rest on the respective chambers. We have to study that because this is a case of first impression,” he added.

Arrest warrant

But should the Sandiganbayan eventually issue warrants for the lawmakers’ arrest, the senators would be placed under the antigraft court’s custody. If the Sandiganbayan orders their suspension, this would be respected by the Senate, Drilon said.

In a statement, Santiago, a former trial court judge and a constitutional law expert, corrected Drilon’s position on the suspension.

Citing the 1991 Anti-Plunder Act, Santiago said that the accused would be automatically suspended from office when the Ombudsman filed plunder charges in court.

Santiago quoted Sec. 5 of the law: “Suspension and Loss of Benefits. 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.”

“This means that the senators and representatives implicated as persons of interest shall be suspended from Congress while the trial is pending,” she said.

Santiago pointed out that the provision cited by Drilon was found only in the Senate Rules, not in the Constitution.

She quoted the Senate Rules, Rule 34, Sec. 97: “Upon the recommendation of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, the Senate may punish any Member for disorderly behavior and, with the concurrence of two-thirds (2/3) of the entire membership, suspend or expel a Member. A penalty of suspension shall not exceed sixty (60) calendar days.”

Cleansing process

“That provision is not found in the Constitution, but only in the Senate Rules. While under the Anti-Plunder Act, suspension is mandatory as indicated by the word ‘shall’ in the Senate Rules suspension is merely permissive, as indicated by the use of the word ‘may,’” she said.

Drilon said the filing of charges against the senators was “part of the cleansing process in our system” and expressed confidence the Senate “will come out stronger.”

“We will exert every effort in order that we can recover the confidence of the people in the institution of Congress as a pillar of our democratic system. We will continue to discharge our functions and we will continue to define policies, which we think is critical in every aspect of our political life,” he said.

Support from JV, Nancy

The three senators’ colleagues in the minority aired their support for them. Sen. JV Ejercito expressed hope that the government would not be selective, while Sen. Nancy Binay hoped her colleagues would get a “fair trial.”

Drilon said the suspension of senators would not affect the functions of the chamber.

“This is a collegial body and we will continue to function as a collegial body,” he said. “We will function. All the committees are still there. The committees will continue to work.”


Enrile in hospital due to high blood pressure, says Estrada

Estrada accuses critics of “mind conditioning the public”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Jinggoy Estrada , Juan Ponce Enrile , Ombudsman , Plunder , pork barrel scam , Ramon Revilla Jr.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  2. Name names, Lacson told
  3. Santiago: Enrile, Lacson, Reyes plotting massive psywar operation
  4. Slain officer’s ‘diagram’ rocks PNP
  5. Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  6. Ex-COA chief nabbed for plunder
  7. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  8. Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  9. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  10. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  5. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  6. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  7. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  10. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  1. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  2. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  3. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano


  • Obama due in Seoul as North Korea nuclear test fears grow
  • Hold departure order out vs Corona, Singson
  • Malaysia to release MH370 report–PM
  • Man found dead in Quezon City, alleged victim of summary execution–report
  • Aquino to lead Air Force turnover rites
  • Sports

  • Michael Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet
  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • Lifestyle

  • ‘Recovered’ Banksy works on display ahead of sale
  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Entertainment

  • Paul McCartney to play at Candlestick concert
  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • Business

  • PAL hailed for ban on shark fin cargo
  • BSP to change tint of P100 bill
  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Technology

  • Cloud strength helps Microsoft earnings top Street
  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • China welcomes PH apology
  • Only 4 Etihad passengers not accounted for
  • Abandoned in Malta,15 PH seamen return
  • Senator hopes PH will also get same vow
  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Marketplace