THE Sandiganbayan on Tuesday allowed opposition Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. to post bail of P30,000 for each count of graft filed against them in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Facing 15 counts of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Enrile and his co-accused were allowed to post P450,000 bail for their provisional liberty.
Bail of P330,000 was recommended for Estrada and his co-accused, who face 11 counts of graft.
Bail was set at P480,000 for Revilla and his co-accused, who face 16 counts.
Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the pork barrel scam, and her co-accused were also allowed to post bail of P1.26 million on 42 counts of graft.
As of Tuesday, none of the accused had posted bail, recommended by M.A. Christian Uy, graft investigation and prosecution officer IV.
Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Napoles also face charges for plunder, for which bail is not allowed. Napoles is also being detained in a separate case of serious illegal detention filed against her by her former employee who turned whistleblower, Benhur Luy.
The anti-graft court on Tuesday deferred the raffling of the plunder cases to give time for the Supreme Court to rule on a request by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to create two special divisions to exclusively try the cases.
The court’s spokesperson Renato Bocar said the Sandiganbayan would raffle off the plunder complaints on Friday if Supreme Court has not acted on the Ombudsman’s request.
The Supreme Court has given the Sandiganbayan three days to comment on the Ombudsman’s petition.
Enrile’s co-accused are Jessica Lucille Reyes, his former chief of staff; Jose Antonio Evangelista II, deputy chief of staff; Undersecretary for Operations Mario Relampagos of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM); Rosario Salamida Nuñez, Lalaine Narag Paule and Marilou Dialino Bare of DBM; Antonio Ortiz, former Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general; Dennis Cunanan, TRC director on-leave; Francisco Figura and Ma. Rosalinda Lacsamana, TRC group managers, and Marivic Jover, TRC chief accountant.
The graft complaints stemmed from Enrile’s endorsement, through Reyes and Evangelista, of Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic and Development Foundation Inc. (CARED) organized by Napoles to implement projects funded by P20 million from the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2007.
Relampagos, Nuñez, Paule and Bare facilitated with “undue haste” the processing of the pertinent special allotment release order (SARO) and notice of cash allocation (NCA), Uy’s three-page bail order read.
TRC’s Cunanan, Figura, Lacsamana, Espiritu and Jover allegedly caused the preparation and execution of memoranda of agreement for the questionable projects.
Estrada’s co-accused are Pauline Therese Mary Labayen, Estrada’s deputy chief of staff; Relampagos; Rosario Salamida Nuñez, Lalaine Narag Paule and Marilou Dialino Bare of DBM; Allan Javellana, former National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) president; Rhodora Mendoza, Nabcor director for financial management services and administration and finance vice president; Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Nabcor chief accountant; Victor Roman Cacala, Nabcor paralegal; Maria Ninez Guañizo, Nabcor bookkeeper and accounting division officer in charge; Romulo Relevo, Nabcor general services unit head; Napoles, and De Asis.
In 2008, Estrada allegedly endorsed through Labayen the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI) organized by Napoles and De Asis to implement projects funded by Estrada’s pork barrel fund of P244.25 million.
While Labayen prepared document and executed communications with DBM and Nabcor for the release of Estrada’s funds, Relampagos and other budget officials facilitated the processing of pertinent SARO and NCA.
Revilla’s co-accused are Richard Cambe, Revilla’s chief of staff; Relampagos; Rosario Salamida Nuñez, Lalaine Narag Paule and Marilou Dialino Bare of DBM; Ortiz; Cunanan; Figura; Lacsama; Jover; Napoles; Myla Ogerio; De Asis; Rodriguez, and Laarni Uy.
In 2007, Revilla through Cambe allegedly endorsed Napoles’ Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (AEPFFI) to implement projects funded by the senator’s PDAF at P25 million, while Relampagos and company processed the SARO and NCA.
Napoles was charged along with her children Jo Christine and James Christopher, Napoles’ 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, and Mylene Encarnacion.
National Bureau of Investigation Director Virgilio Mendez said his agency was preparing its detention facility in case warrants of arrest are issued for the three senators.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police also renovated its custodial center in its Camp Crame headquarters, presumably in preparation for the high-profile arrests.
In the House of Representatives, lawmakers supported Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.’s suggestion that Enrile be allowed house arrest while he is on trial for plunder.
Reps. Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela, Silvestre Bello III of 1-BAP party-list, Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. of Cavite, Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada party-list, Gus Tambunting of Paranaque City, and Jorge Banal of Quezon said Enrile, 90, should not be detained in an ordinary jail cell due to health considerations.
“Senator Enrile is 90 years old and his being detained in an ordinary detention cell with other detainees would certainly be an ordeal that he could not withstand at his advanced age and will definitely pose threats to his health,” Albano, a member of the House minority bloc, said.
De la Cruz, member of the independent minority bloc in the House, said Enrile should be allowed house arrest “in deference to his services to the country and his age.”
Belmonte earlier said that while everyone should be treated in the same way, the law allows some leniency when the accused is at an advanced age.
Also on Tuesday, the Supreme Court deferred action on the plea of Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff, to stop the Sandiganbayan from indicting her for plunder.
The Court took up Reyes’ petition Monday, but decided to seek comment from the Ombudsman before deciding on the petition.
In her appeal, Reyes said her constitutional right to due process had been violated because she did not receive copies of all statements, transcripts of hearings or meetings held with socialite-turned-state witness Ruby Tuason and affidavits related to the case that would have enabled her to sufficiently answer the charges.
Reyes also accused the Ombudsman of committing grave abuse of discretion. With Maricel V. Cruz, Rey E. Requejo and Ma. Jerrylyn B. Damaso
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