THE Sandiganbayan on Tuesday issued a hold departure order on Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr., the accused mastermind of the pork barrel scam Janet Lim Napoles and their co-accused.
The Third Division of the anti-graft court chaired by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang barred Enrile, Napoles, Enrile’s former chief of staff Jessica Lucille Reyes, deputy chief of staff Jose Antonio Evangelista II; Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos; Rosario Salamida Nuñez, Lalaine Narag Paule and Marilou Dialino Bare of the Department of Budget and Management; Antonio Ortiz, former Technology Resource Center director general; Dennis Cunanan, TRC director on-leave; Francisco
Figura and Ma. Rosalinda Lacsamana, TRC group managers, and Marivic Jover, TRC chief accountant, from leaving the country.
The hold departure order also covered Napoles, her daughter Jo Christine, her brother Ronald Lim; Amparo Fernando; Fernando Ramirez; Nitz Cabilao; Aileen Palama; John Raymund de Asis, a JLN Co. employee and Kaupdan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. president; Mylene Encarnacion, and several others.
Enrile is facing a plunder charge and 15 counts of graft.
On Monday, the Fifth Division chaired by Associate Justice Roland Jurado issued a hold departure order to prevent Estrada and his co-accused from leaving the country.
On Tuesday, the First Division under Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz issued a similar order on Revilla, his chief of staff Richard Cambe, Relampagos, Nuñez, Paule, Ortiz, Cunanan, Figura, Lacsamana, Jover, Napoles, Myla Ogerio, De Asis, Rodriguez, Laarni Uy and several others.
Like Estrada and Enrile, Revilla is being charged with plunder and 16 counts of graft.
Revilla said Tuesday he expected the hold departure order after Estrada received one Monday.
Like Estrada, Revilla said he had no plans to leave the country or evade prosecution.
All three senators have denied wrongdoing in the pork barrel scam and said they would prove their innocence in court.
Revilla also said he was ready to go to jail to appease the Filipino people, whose minds have been poisoned by President Benigno Aquino III, the senator said.
“I am emotionally ready... they can bring me wherever they want,” Revilla said.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police showed members of the press the detention area being prepared for the senators.
The facility is a four-door unit measuring four by eight meters, with grilled windows and a common sink, surrounded by a high wall with barbed wire. The unit has freshly painted walls and single beds for detainees.
In a radio interview Tuesday, Estrada said the hold departure order was standard operating procedure, and didn’t bother him because he had no plans of leaving the country.
He also said that although he is ready to go to jail, he would prefer house arrest.
“If we will be placed in Camp Crame, it’s not a problem. If the Sandiganbayan says we will be in regular jail with ordinary criminals, we can’t do anything about it,” he said.
This will not be the first time that Estrada is jailed for plunder. In 2001, he was detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, after being named a co-accused in the P4.2-billion plunder case filed against his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
However, he was cleared by the SB Special Court in 2007, which later found ousted President Estrada guilty. The former president was eventually pardoned by President Gloria Arroyo, who is herself now under hospital arrest.
Also on Tuesday, Napoles tapped her spokesman, Bruce Rivera, as her lead counsel in the serious illegal detention case filed against her by her former employee and pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.
This is the third time Napoles replaced her counsel for the case. Her first lawyer was Lorna Kapunan who was replaced by Alfredo Villamor who resigned due to a family-related problem.
Another lawyer, Stephen David, will handle the plunder charge against her before the Sandiganbayan, Rivera said.
The serious illegal detention case is separate from the plunder charges filed before the anti-graft court.
Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati regional trial court trying the illegal detention case on Tuesday denied an attempt by the Napoles camp to defer the proceedings.
Alameda said the testimony of Luy has been postponed three times because of the previous requests made by the defense.
Luy was supposed to testify in court on May 26 but it was rescheduled as the court was then hearing Napoles’ motion for hospital confinement.
The scheduled hearings on June 2 and 9 were also postponed after David asked the court to give him more time to study the records of the case.
In his testimony, Luy said while he was being illegally detained at the house of Napoles on Lapu Lapu Street in Magallanes Village, she had his unit at the One Lafayette condominium in Eastwood City in Quezon City padlocked.
He added that during his illegal detention, he was deprived of access to his condominium unit and his personal items inside valued at some P1 million.
Luy will return to the witness stand on July 1 where he will be cross examined by the defense panel. Another hearing has been set for July 8. With Joel E. Zurbano
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