Sotto, Honasan push for continued detention of 3 senators in Camp Crame
MANILA, Philippines–Two opposition senators are pushing for the continued detention of the three jailed senators at the Camp Crame in Quezon City while their cases are being heard by the Sandiganbayan.
The three are Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who have been charged with plunder, a non-bailable offense, and graft over the “pork barrel” scam.
In Senate Resolution 798 filed Monday, Senators Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan said the detention of the three should be maintained at the Camp Crame so that they could continue to function as regular members of the Senate.
“While the hearing of the charges against the three are being heard by the Sandiganbayan, their detention at the Camp Crame compound of the Philippine National Police be maintained in order that they may have the space to continue to function as duly elected representatives of the people on the constitutional principle that the accused are presumed innocent until final conviction by the proper court,” the resolution reads.
The resolution pointed out the senators’ right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty.
In the resolution, Sotto and Honasan also pointed out that under Section 16, Article of VI of the 1987 Constitution, the Senate alone may decide on how its members may be disciplined, suspended, or expelled.
Unlike Revilla, Enrile and Estrada have already been ordered suspended for 90 days by the Sandiganbayan. But the Senate has yet to implement the order pending possible filing of a motion for reconsideration by the respondents.
Senate President Franklin Drilon had earlier said that the chamber will comply with the court’s order once its ruling becomes final.
Drilon also explained in previous interviews that while the Senate has the power to punish its members, the Sandiganbayan may also order the preventive suspension of government officials charged before it. No less than the Supreme Court, he said, has made that distinction.
“There is a very basic difference. The power of the Senate is to impose a penalty, which is suspension for 60 days. What the Anti-graft Law could do is a preventive suspension,” the Senate leader said.
“The penalty of suspension is governed by the institution, of the Senate, which is supreme. Only the Senate can impose the penalty for its members for 60 days.”
“On the other hand, the Anti-Graft Law is applicable to all government officials, and is a preventive suspension for 90 days. By its very nature, its purpose is to prevent the respondent from using his office to influence the investigation. There is no penalty in that, since that is only imposed by the Senate. The Supreme Court was clear on that,” Drilon added.
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