MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senate President Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday he will respect it if a warrant of arrest will be served against the three senators facing plunder and graft charges over the pork barrel scam.
”I have no discretion. If the warrant of arrest will be issued, we will respect that,” Drilon said.
He said the arrest warrant can be served against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. even if Congress is in session. Congress is currently on Lenten break.
However, Drilon urged the Sandiganbayan not to serve the arrest warrant during the actual session.
”I hope they will not enter the session hall and will serve the arrest warrant. We will not allow that. It should not be done inside the session hall,” Drilon clarified.
Drilon said the Senate leadership has also no power to prevent suspension order once the plunder charges have been formally filed against three senators.
Once the information is filed in the Sandiganbayan, Drilon said the Ombudsman will file a petition to suspend all the public officials, including the three senators, involved in the plunder complaint.
“The Sandiganbayan has no discretion to deny this (suspension). It has to grant this. Suspension is automatic the moment the petition is filed by the Ombudsman in the Sandiganbayan,” Drilon said.
Drilon said the respondent senators have five days to file a motion for reconsideration in the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Senate President, on the other hand, is expecting his colleagues to respect whatever the decision of the Ombudsman and the anti-graft court.
”Once the warrant of arrest has been issued, I think, our colleagues will respect the process. As public figures, we have to respect the arrest warrant,” Drilon said.
The Ombudsman announced on Tuesday that it had found probable cause to file plunder and graft cases against the three senators and 54 other individuals, including Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the misuse of priority development assistance fund (PDAF).
Based on the Ombudsman’s recommendation to file charges, Estrada allegedly received P183.73 million kickbacks while Revilla and Enrile got P224.5 million and P172.8 million commission, respectively.
The alleged commission of each senator is more than triple of the P50 million threshold for filing of plunder case which has life imprisonment penalty.
Also last Tuesday, Senate Blue Ribbon chairman Teofisto Guingona III released an unsigned committee report that also recommended the filing of plunder charges against his three colleagues and six others individuals.
Citing the testimony of main pork barrel whistle-blower Benhur Luy, Guingona said 50 percent of the PDAF goes to the lawmakers, five percent to the representative of the lawmaker, 10 percent to officials of implementing agencies and 35 percent to Napoles.
“The most glaring and lamentable part is the zero percent goes to the beneficiaries,” Guingona said.
Napoles allegedly used “bogus” non-government organizations (NGOs) to siphon huge amount of PDAF from lawmakers using ghost projects and beneficiaries. (MNS)