Senate hasn’t suspended Jinggoy Estrada, awaits appeal
MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada has not been suspended yet by the Senate, as it awaits his possible filing of a motion for reconsideration.
Senate President Franklin Drilon pointed out that the suspension order by the Sandiganbayan provides for a 15-day period wherein which Estrada could appeal the court’s decision.
Estrada has been detained at the Camp Crame in Quezon City on plunder charges in connection with the “pork barrel” scam.
Drilon said he received the suspension order last Friday, July 18, 2014.
“By the very order, it says that the suspension is effective immediately unless a motion for reconsideration is filed,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
“The senator has 15 days to submit a motion. We will act accordingly once the Sandiganbayan has disposed of the motion if one is filed, or if none, by the end of the 15-day period, which began since I received the copy last Friday,” he further said.
Pending the 15-day period for the filing of a motion for reconsideration, Drilon said Estrada could still file bills in the chamber.
Asked about questions raised by Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile’s camp against the court’s authority to suspend senators, Drilon said the issue has been decided by the Supreme Court.
He said the high tribunal made a distinction between the power of the Senate to punish its members and the anti-graft court’s authority to order preventive suspension of government officials charged before it.
“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,” said the Senate leader.
“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 further said.
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