Sandiganbayan sides with Enrile on pork barrel case

Maris Federez   •   April 30, 2019   •   2828

The Sandiganbayan has ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to produce the evidence against former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on the P172.8 million plunder case against him.

This is in response to the petition filed by the camp of former lawmaker before the Sandiganbayan Third Division to order the Ombudsman “to produce and permit the copying or photographing of any and all documents” as specified in the bill of particulars.

They argued that they need time “to study and consider the materials before trial is held.”

In its 6-page resolution issued on April 24, the graft court granted Enrile’s motion.

The Sandiganbayan said, “Enrile has absolute control on how to go about his defense. If in his mind, he needed to inspect or copy pieces of evidence [not privileged] which are material for him to make an intelligent defense, then he is allowed by the court to ask for the inspection or production of these documents.”

The court cited Section 10, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which allows the former Senate president to avail this remedy, considering the prosecution made use of government resources to prepare its case.

Therefore, on the argument that the request is equivalent to premature presentation of evidence, the court said “Ombudsman prosecutors were wrong to call Enrile’s motion premature.

The Sandiganbayan, however, said the scope of the evidence that Enrile may access is only limited to documents related to the itemized charges against him.

Enrile is accused of pocketing some P172.8 million of his pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by channeling the money to the fake nongovernment organizations of convicted plunderer Janet Lim Napoles.

He was initially detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City but was later released by the court on humanitarian grounds considering that he is already 95 years old.

Associate Justice Ronald Moreno wrote the resolution, with the concurrence of Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez.  –Maris Federez

Ombudsman will not appeal Revilla’s acquittal in 16 PDAF graft charges

Marje Pelayo   •   July 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has rested its case against Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. in the controversial ‘Pork Barrel’ scam.

This after the Sandiganbayan (SB) acquitted Revilla “for insufficiency of evidence on the remaining 16 graft cases” in relation to the alleged irregularities in the Senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

“The SB First Division voted 3-2 to grant Senator Revilla’s Demurrer to Evidence, AND WE RESPECT ITS DECISION,” the Ombudsman said in a statement.

Furthermore, the statement stressed that Ombudsman Samuel Martires will no longer challenge the “dismissal of cases/quashal of information and judgments of acquittal, either through a motion to dismiss, a demurrer to evidence or by a decision, rendered by the trial courts or the Sandiganbayan except when the People was clearly deprived of due process or there was mistrial,” citing Revilla’s constitutional right against double jeopardy.

“A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. The grant of the court of the demurrer is tantamount to an acquittal because the defendant is cleared of the criminal case and is no longer required to present his evidence,” the Ombudsman statement explained.

Revilla was accused in 2014 of diverting his PDAF for the years 2006 to 2009 to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) linked to ex-Cagayan de Oro congressman and Pork Barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles.

The senator was alleged to have received P224.5 million kickback in the process.

Napoles was convicted of plunder in relation to the scam in 2018.

Sandiganbayan clears Revilla, 6 others of graft in pork barrel cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has cleared Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and six others of graft cases relating to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the pork barrel scam.

Revilla was accused of diverting his PDAF funds to bogus non-government organizations which involved the so-called Pork Barrel Queen, Janet Lim Napoles.

Based on the ruling of the Sandiganbayan First Division that was released on Monday (July 5), the court granted Revilla’s demurrer to evidence acquitting the Senator of 16 counts of graft on grounds of insufficiency of evidence.

“The bonds posted by accused Revilla are hereby ordered released, subject to the usual accounting and auditing procedures. The Hold Departure Order issued against them are also set aside and declared functus officio,” the ruling stated.

Also dismissed from the case are Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nunez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Encarnita Christina Munsod, and Chita Jalandoni.

Meanwhile, the court did not grant Napoles on her demurrer to evidence, meaning the graft cases filed against her will continue to trial.

In a statement, Revilla said the dismissal is proof that the accusations filed against him have no basis.

“The Sandiganbayan, by granting our Demurrer to Evidence and dismissing all the charges against me, validates what we have known from the very beginning – that all the accusations against me have no basis and any leg to stand on,” he said.

“I am not, and never have been involved in graft and corruption. This is the reason why I did not run; I did not hide; and did not evade the judicial system. I put my trust and my life in our Courts. The truth has come out. Now, I can move forward to serving our nation and our people even further, free of this nuisance,” he added.

The Sandiganbayan also acquitted Revilla of plunder in relation to the pork barrel scam in December 2018. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Arbitral ruling on WPS issue not meaningless but UN can’t enforce it, Enrile says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile expressed his belief that the arbitral ruling upholding the claims of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea is not meaningless.

Enrile issued the remark after President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his stand that the 2016 The Hague ruling nullifying China’s historical claims over the West Philippine Sea will just be rejected by China.

“This is really the dilemma of the nation. For me, the beginning of this problem was when we retreated,” Duterte said, referring to the 2012 standoff between the Philippines and China in the Scarborough Shoal.

“Since then, yung paper works about the arbitral award has become meaningless and the opposite camp of the political side ay nagsabi na I should do my very best in asking the UN,” he added.

But Enrile said the arbitral ruling on the issue will not go to waste as it is already on record. He also indicated that the award, which also voided China’s historical claims, was based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“Sa aking paningin, hindi naman nasasayang yung desisyon ng arbitration diyan sa bagay na yan sapagka’t nandiyan na yun eh. Sa palagay ko nakarehistro ang decision sa record ng UN,” he said.

He, however, said any resolution coming from the UN will not have much effect as the body is powerless to enforce it.

“Ano pang kailangang resolusyon ng UN para malunasan ang sigalot na yan? Palagay ko kahit may resolution ng UN yan, di mapapatupad ng UN yung resolution nila. Wala silang police force eh. Wala namang world government na kagaya ng estruktura sa ating bansa,” he said.

Duterte thanked Enrile for his advise and for backing up the administration’s foreign policy, reiterating that he prefers to talk with China instead of using force to defend the Philippine sovereignty.

“I was frank enough in the early days that ‘might’ make it right. We are not unfortunately on the side of might. We cannot do anything in force so we have to talk,” he said.

“Just talk and talk until such time by grace of God until there is an opportunity in time,” he added.

Duterte invited Enrile to be a special guest during his weekly public address to speak on the issue of the West Philippine Sea.

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