Enrile won’t bare his defense, calls raps ‘ambiguous’
MANILA, Philippines–Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has refused to submit to the Sandiganbayan a summary of his defense in the plunder case filed against him in connection with the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.
In a six-page manifestation, Enrile through his lawyers argued that he could not prepare a pretrial brief as ordered by the antigraft court because the criminal complaint filed against him by the Ombudsman was “unclear, ambiguous and lacking in material facts.”
The senator also said the Rules of Court did not require an accused to submit a summary of his defense in criminal proceedings such as for plunder.
“Accused here repeatedly pointed out in his previous motions that the allegations in the information are vague and do not sufficiently inform him of the particular acts that he committed that supposedly constitute the offense charged against him,” Enrile said in the pleading filed by his lawyers last Friday.
Still at a loss
He said he filed a motion for a bill of particulars as part of his legal team’s preparation for his defense, but the court threw out his request.
“As a result, accused is still at a loss as to how he participated in the purported crime of plunder,” Enrile said.
Enrile had wanted the prosecution to identify the personalities who supposedly delivered and received the kickbacks allegedly intended for him from suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
His lawyers also asked the antigraft court’s Third Division to order the government prosecutors to provide the exact dates on which Enrile supposedly received the “rebates” or his commissions from six of Napoles’ bogus nongovernment organizations, as well as other specific details of the case.
“(These) are not evidentiary in nature. These are ultimate and material facts which would support the conclusion stated in the information and which, if furnished by the prosecution, would allow accused Enrile to prepare his defense,” his manifestation read.
Enrile likewise reminded the court that he had elevated his request to the Supreme Court where he filed a petition for certiorari seeking the reversal of the Sandiganbayan’s denial of his motion for a bill of particulars.
“Considering the foregoing and the issue on the propriety of a bill of particulars which is pending in the Supreme Court, accused Enrile is not ready to submit a pretrial brief,” the motion read.
Citing the Rules of Court and the high tribunal’s rulings in previous cases, Enrile’s lawyers, led by former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, pointed out that the court did not compel individuals facing criminal charges to present the outline of their defense to protect their rights as accused.
“Although pretrial proceedings are now mandatory in criminal cases, the filing of pretrial briefs was not made mandatory in deference to the constitutionally protected right of the accused,” Enrile said.
“To be sure, the rules on pretrial in criminal cases were not meant to discharge the prosecution from the burden of establishing the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Again, this burden rises from the presumption of innocence of the accused that no less than the Constitution has guaranteed,” he added.
Enrile, who is being held in a private room at the PNP General Hospital in Camp Crame since he yielded to the authorities last month, is accused of pocketing P173 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel through endorsements made to six Napoles-controlled NGOs.
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