MANILA, Philippines – Suspending government officials charged with plunder in court may be necessary while the trial is ongoing, Senator Grace Poe said on Wednesday.
Poe made the remarks when asked about her colleagues who have been charged with plunder at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam. Among those charged were Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
But the Office of the Ombudsman has yet to establish probable cause before it proceeds with the filing of cases at the Sandiganbayan against the three senators and other personalities involved in the scam.
Poe wondered why there were officials who continued to hold on to their offices even after they were charged with non-bailable offense in court.
“Does it say that if the case is plunder or graft that you have lost the basic credibility that you have which is the trust of the people?” Poe said at a press conference in the Senate.
“So for me I agree…that if you’re not convicted but if you are charged with plunder which is considered non-bailable, it would be very difficult for you to discharge your duties. So perhaps in that particular point, I agree that there should be, maybe, a suspension while the trial is ongoing,” she said.
But the decision to suspend government officials, Poe said, should be left to the Sandiganbayan, and not to the Senate in the case of the senators charged with plunder.
“Just common sense, how are you able to discharge your duties if you’re not physically present or easily accessible? Just with that common sense analysis,” Poe added.
Poe said she was saddened that some of her colleagues have been implicated in the scam.
“Pero sabi nga sa akin noong isang nag-tweet , huwag na kayong mahiya sa mga kasama ninyo sa Senado. Mahiya kayo sa amin na naglagay dyan , which reminds us talaga that our obligations no matter what we feel personally, is really what is right and what is good for the people,” Poe said.