What’s holding back the arrest warrant for ex-Rep. Plaza?
IT SEEMS like the state prosecutors were bothered that the arrest warrant is yet to be issued against former Agusan Del Sur Representative Rodolfo Plaza who faces a malversation charge before the Sandiganbayan over the pork barrel scam.
In a motion to resolve pending incidents and set the arraignment date of the accused filed before the antigraft court Second Division, the Office of Special Prosecutors said the court has already found probable cause to hold Plaza on trial but it has yet to issue an arrest warrant and hold departure order against the former lawmaker.
The second batch of pork barrel scam were filed at the Sandiganbayan last Oct. 2014 and while the other accused were issued warrants, Plaza has yet to be issued one until now.
The former congressman faces five counts of malversation, five counts of graft and two counts of direct bribery. The bail per count of malversation is set at P40,000, bail per graft count at P30,000, and bail per bribery count at P20,000.
The prosecutors said the court has also found probable cause to hold Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and his staff Rosario Nuñez, Marilou Bare and Lalaine Paule on trial even though they were not ordered arrested by the court.
“The Court already affirmed the finding of probable cause in response to the motions for judicial determination of accused Plaza, Relampagos, Nuñez, Paule and Bare. With the determination of probable cause, the Honorable Court may already issue the warrants of arrest as well as the Hold Departure Order such that it may obtain jurisdiction over the accused… The prosecution thus moves for the resolution of the pending incidents, the issuance of the warrants of arrest for all accused and immediate setting of their arraignment,” the motion read.
Plaza is accused of receiving P42.1 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) projects from 2004 to 2010 under the scheme of accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, with payoffs taking place in Napoles’ house in Alabang Hills or at Napoles’ office in Ortigas.
Plaza is part of the second batch of PDAF-scam tainted lawmakers facing charges for purportedly pillaging public funds through ghost projects using Napoles’ bogus foundations. Former Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lañete and APEC Rep. Edgar Valdez are also facing plunder case, while former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa and Cagayan De Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula are facing malversation case.
The antigraft court is also hearing the plunder cases of detained senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile. Estrada and Revilla are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, while Enrile is under hospital arrest. Lañete and Valdez, meanwhile, are detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa.
Accused mastermind Napoles also faces plunder. She was sentenced to life in prison for the serious illegal detention of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.
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