PNP, NBI set for arrests
MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation appear to be vying to take on the task of arresting Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile and 51 others charged with plunder and graft in the Sandiganbayan over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
“We were the investigating body and it’s also part of our mandate to make arrest if ordered so by the court. We cannot just be bystanders in this, we have to comply,” NBI Director Virgilio Mendez said.
Mendez said those arrested by the NBI would be detained at the NBI facility on Taft Avenue in Manila unless otherwise ordered by the Sandiganbayan.
But the NBI probably need not bother.
The three opposition lawmakers have expressed willingness to turn themselves in to the PNP.
Surrender to Purisima
Director Benjamin Magalong, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said Estrada, Revilla and Enrile had assured him that they would personally yield to PNP Director General Alan Purisima at Camp Crame in Quezon City.
The PNP has built a special detention facility at its Custodial Center in Camp Crame for the senators and their coaccused.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said it was not the intention of police officials to humiliate the lawmakers tagged in the pork barrel scam as the PNP was merely carrying out its mandate to implement arrest warrants.
“The PNP cannot renege on its regular duty. We do not want to hurt any members of their families. The PNP will just comply with the order of the court,” Roxas said at a news briefing.
If ordered by the Sandiganbayan, the NBI “will proceed with the arrest and we are ready,” Mendez said.
He said that there was no discussion between the PNP and the NBI about the impending arrests.
“We will gladly coordinate with the PNP, but as of now there’s no need yet,” he said.
Unlike common criminals, the senators will not be handcuffed when they are arrested, the PNP said.
“Being handcuffed is a form of restraint. If there is no need to restrain (an individual), there will be no opportunity to handcuff (them),” Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP spokesman, told reporters.
Asked if he meant there was no need to handcuff the senators, he said: “Yes. That is theoretically speaking.”
Mendez said his instruction to the NBI arresting team was to use handcuffs only if necessary. “The handcuff will only be used if the situation calls for it. Otherwise we will not use handcuffs,” he said.
Mendez said the use of handcuffs would become necessary when there were signs of resistance or escape.
The senators’ arrest has become imminent after the Sandiganbayan issued hold-departure orders against them, stopping them from fleeing the country.
Meeting with Estrada
The CIDG chief said he had met with Estrada to discuss the latter’s plan to surrender once the Sandiganbayan issued a warrant for his arrest.
“We trust each other’s commitment. (Estrada) will surrender to (Purisima),” Magalong said in a text message.
Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo, CIDG chief of the National Capital Region, said the police “will give them due respect. But we will implement the warrant of arrest.”
The CIDG is the primary police unit tasked with serving the arrest warrants against the senators and the others charged with plunder and graft, according to Sindac.
Revilla said he had offered to surrender to the CIDG head to ensure a fanfare-free and orderly arrest.
He said he called Magalong a month or two months ago to make that arrangement.
“I told him that they should not subject us to ridicule. After all, I won’t flee the country. I will face this problem,” the senator told reporters by phone.
Magalong responded by saying that the police also wanted to ensure an orderly arrest, Revilla said.
‘No need to look for us’
Estrada also called Magalong a month ago to inform him of his preference to surrender. “[Being arrested at home] would be traumatic for my family,” he told reporters in a phone-patch interview.
He said he had requested Magalong to inform him once the warrant was issued so he could act appropriately.
Revilla said he would surrender to the CIDG chief once the Sandiganbayan issued the warrant for his arrest.
But he was also open to the police serving the warrant at home if that was the decision of the authorities.
“As I said, there’s no need for them to find us. We will surrender once the warrant of arrest is out,” Revilla said of his phone conversation with Magalong. “Once the warrant is out, we are ready.”
Revilla said that he made the request to Magalong and that he expected to see his coaccused in Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters in Quezon City.
“We didn’t agree on this. But Senator Jinggoy has mentioned this aspect to me. That could be the arrangement. We’ll probably see each other in Camp Crame, or somewhere else,” he said.
Revilla, however, admitted that his father, former Sen. Ramon Revilla Sr., had yet to fully accept his imminent arrest in connection with the scam.
“Daddy is worried. He has not fully accepted it; he remains hopeful it won’t happen. Just the same, I’m preparing him to expect the worst,” he said. “I’d like to see him before I get jailed.”
The senator also said he was open to any detention cell being prepared by the PNP. “I didn’t want to look at the footage because I would be staying there for a time anyway,” he said.
NBI tracking teams
Mendez said that the bureau had formed three teams to track down and to implement the arrests. Tapped for the arrests were the NBI Regional Services Division, Intelligence Division and the National Capital Region Division.
NBI agents, mostly lawyers and accountants, will “observe protocol and will respect the institution,” Mendez said.
The three senators will not receive special treatment from the NBI. “They will be jailed with other detainees,” Mendez said.
The NBI director told reporters that the 54 people, if arrested by NBI agents, would have to share cells with other detainees who were charged with murder, kidnapping, syndicated estafa, drug pushing and sex offenses.
“No new wing or new cells for the newcomers, they will be mixed with other detainees,” Mendez said.
If arrested by the NBI agents the lawmakers would be kept at the NBI facility in its headquarters on Taft Avenue in Manila with “high-profile detainees,” like former Pagadian Mayor Samuel Co, businessman Cedric Lee, Aman Ventures officials, Mexican drug cartel members and suspected members of the New People’s Army.
Mendez said those arrested by the NBI would be brought and detained at the NBI facility, unless otherwise ordered by the Sandiganbayan.
Originally posted at 12:27 am | Thursday, June 19, 2014
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