Sandigan orders Enrile suspended for 90 days
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan third division on Friday suspended Juan Ponce Enrile from serving as senator for 90 days as he faces plunder and graft charges over the pork barrel scam.
“Enrile is hereby suspended from his post as Senator… and from any other public office which he may or hereafter be holding for a period of 90 days from receipt of this resolution, unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed,” the resolution read.
The court thereby granted the prosecution’s motion to have Enrile suspended according to the Plunder Law, for fears that he might intimidate witnesses or tamper evidence while he is senator.
Enrile’s lawyer Estelito Mendoza had opposed the suspension, saying only the Senate can discipline their members according to the Constitution.
But the court said the constitutional provision pertains to a “punitive measure” on an erring member of Congress.
In this case, however, Enrile’s suspension is not a penalty but merely a “preventive measure” in a criminal proceeding.
“Accordingly, when the Court imposes this suspension in appropriate cases, it does not thereby unduly infringe on the prerogatives of Congress,” the resolution read.
Enrile had also said suspending him would disenfranchise the 15 million voters who voted him senator.
The court said since the suspension is only preventive in nature, Enrile remains a senator and thus the voters were not deprived of representation.
“(H)e would still remain senator albeit preventively suspended only,” the court said.
The court issued a copy of the resolution to the Senate, which is given five days upon receipt to inform the court of their actions.
The suspension will be automatically lifted after the 90-day period, the resolution said.
Besides Enrile, Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada was also suspended for 90 days as he faces pork barrel scam raps.
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