Enrile’s bid to quash plunder rap denied
After over two years, the plunder trial of former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is finally underway.
This after the Sandiganbayan Third Division denied for lack of merit Enrile’s motion to quash his plunder charge for his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
In a resolution promulgated Jan. 31, the court denied Enrile’s quashal motion because it contradicts the Supreme Court ruling that allowed Enrile’s motion for a bill of particulars.
Despite Enrile’s claims that the information was insufficient even with the bill of particulars, the court ruled that the facts charged in the information constitute plunder, “hence, accused Enrile’s motion to quash must be denied.”
While Enrile said the plunder information fails to specify overt acts constituting the crime of “unjust enrichment,” the anti-graft court said Enrile’s arguments are “devoid of merit.”
The Supreme Court already declared that there is no need to give details on the charge of “unjust enrichment,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“How accused Enrile, who is petitioner in the case, could miss this point baffles the Court,” the court said.
The court also said that the details Enrile is seeking in the information — what is the detailed description of the project, or how the kickbacks were received — are all “evidentiary matters which can be provided during the trial.”
“It is jurisprudentially-settled that evidentiary facts need not be alleged in the Information because these are matters of defense,” the court said.
As to Enrile’s claim that there is no probable cause to try him for plunder, the court said this issue had been resolved way back July 2014 when it found probable cause.
“(T)he Court already found that there is probable cause that plunder was committed in this case and that the accused are probably guilty thereof,” the court said.
“In sum, the Court finds that the Information sufficiently alleges the ultimate facts constituting the crime of plunder. Thus, accused Enrile’s motion to dismiss/quash deserves denial,” it concluded.
In his motion to quash the plunder information, Enrile through his lawyers said that after the prosecutors submitted the bill of particulars since the Supreme Court granted his motion, the charge sheet only became “more glaringly insufficient as it becomes more evident that it failed to charge the offense of plunder.”
“It has now become clear that the reason the prosecutors could not provide the details and particulars of the overt acts constituting the crime of plunder is simply because they do not have such details,” Enrile said in his 67-page motion.
Enrile said the prosecution submitted a table listing Enrile’s alleged kickbacks according to principal whistleblower Benhur Luy’s ledger, but this ledger failed to prove Enrile received the alleged commission.
“No project description. No implementing agency. No non-government organization. And Enrile is expected to defend against these blank spaces, or else be imprisoned for life?” the motion read.
Enrile said the prosecution failed to give particulars on the plunder charge to prove that the senator enriched himself in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) projects.
“Indeed, the prosecution has been dilly-dallying, even feigning compliance, since it fully knows that it cannot possibly ‘particularize’ a non-existent charge for plunder,” according to the motion.
Enrile is accused of receiving P172.8 million in kickbacks from accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles through his alleged agent Gigi Reyes.
Enrile is out on bail from hospital detention after the Supreme Court considered his petition citing his advanced age and political stature.
While Enrile is out on bail, her former chief of staff Atty. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes who was accused of serving as Enrile’s agent remains detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig pending her plunder trial.
Reyes’ bid to quash her plunder charge had also been denied by the court. JE
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