Enrile to stand trial for plunder, Sandiganbayan affirms
The P172.83-million plunder case of former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile in relation to the pork barrel scam is sufficient enough to proceed to trial, the Sandiganbayan has affirmed.
In a 19-page resolution on Thursday, the antigraft court’s Third Division denied Enrile’s appeal to throw out the charge on the grounds that the allegations do not constitute the elements of a valid plunder case.
The court affirmed the sufficiency of the case and said the defense failed to raise new arguments to warrant the reversal of the Jan. 31 resolution that first denied his motion to quash.
Enrile had questioned the June 2014 charge because it supposedly did not state the “particular overt acts” showing unjust enrichment.
He also raised the lack of finer details on his alleged receipt of kickbacks and the lack of enumeration of anomalous projects linked to alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
But, the court maintained the alleged acts of receiving kickbacks and taking advantage of his official position were the “overt acts or predicate crimes” stated to make a case for plunder.
Enrile’s plunder case is currently lagging behind those of detained former senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, whose trials are currently scheduled to begin in June three years after they were charged in connection with the multibillion-peso scam. The Enrile camp’s legal maneuvers meant the pretrial process could not proceed.
He first tried to ask for a bill of particulars to make the allegations more specific. The Sandiganbayan’s denial of the request prompted him to go to the Supreme Court, which ordered prosecutors to detail the charges in August 2015. The Office of the Ombudsman complied after the decision attained finality, and the SC “noted” its action in June 2016.
But Enrile was not satisfied by the additional details provided by prosecutors, so he sought the quashal of the case.
The Sandiganbayan in January, however, said that by requesting a bill of particulars, Enrile “impliedly admitted” the validity of the charge and only wanted more information so he can mount a proper defense. It added that the nitty-gritty of the plunder allegations are “evidentiary matters” best threshed out by allowing the case to head to trial, the court said.
The 92-year-old politician is currently out on bail for an otherwise nonbailable offense after the SC in August 2015 allowed him to do so on “humanitarian considerations.” Besides plunder, he also faces 15 counts of graft for the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations./rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.