By ELLEN T. TORDESILLAS
NOW that the Ombudsman has approved the resolution to file plunder charges against those involved in the malversation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, it looks like Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla would be observing their Holy Week in jail.
It is reported that Revilla and his family are in Holy Land to seek for “divine intervention.” Let’s see if his wish would be granted.
The accused will be given time to submit a motion for reconsideration, after which the Ombudsman will file the Information with the Sandiganbayan. The graft court will determine whether there’s a basis for the case to proceed.
The Sandiganbayan has 10 days after receipt of the Information to issue a warrant of arrest.
In a briefing, Ombudsman Spokesperson Asryman Rafanan they “found probable cause to indict Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, as well as Janet Lim Napoles, and a number of government employees and non-government organizations offices with plunder punishable under RA 7080 as amended and violation of section 3E of Republic Act 3019 or the anti-graft and corrupt practices act in connection to the pork scam.”
On the charges for Plunder, Rafanan said “the Joint Resolutions concluded that the three Senators took undue advantage of their official position to illegally divert , in connivance with certain respondents, their respective PDAF allocations to the Napoles NGOs, in exchange for kickbacks/commission amounting to more than P172 million ,P242million ndP183 million in the case of Senators Enrile, Revilla and Estrada, respectively, with the PDAF funded projects turning out to be “ghost” projects, under a modus operandi of a combination and series of overt criminal acts repeatedly taking place over a number of years.”
The crime of Plunder under RA 7080 is punishable by reclusion perpetua (to death), and forfeiture of the ill-gotten wealth in favor of the government.
In the Ombudsman resolutions, it showed that Revilla got the largest kickback in the amount of P224, 512,00 out of the P517,000,000 PDAF that was released to him.
Estrada was the second topnotcher with P183,793,750 kickbacks from his P480,000,650 pork barrel.
Ombudsman’s investigations showed that P172, 834,500 out of the P345, 000,000 PDAF released to Enrile went to kickbacks and commissions.
On the charges for violations of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, the Joint Resolutions uniformly found that the sets of respondents conspired in causing undue injury to the government in the amounts of P345 million, P517 million and P278 million from the PDAF of Senators Enrile, Revilla and Estrada, respectively, by receiving, in evident bad faith, kickbacks or portions of the diverted amount, and by being manifestly partial in the selection of the Napoles NGOs and the conduit Implementing Agencies (IAs), which resulted in unwarranted benefit, preference or advantage to the Napoles NGOs which were chosen without the benefit of public bidding and which supposed turned out to be “ghost” projects.
Estrada and Revilla issued statements denying the accusations adding that they were not surprised by the Ombudsman’s decision. Enrile, as of presstime, has not issued a reaction.
Enrile’s chief of staff of Enrile, Gigi Reyes, Estrada’s Pauline Labayen, and Revilla’s Richard Cambe were included among the respondents.
Included also are Ruby Tuason, former social secretary of President Estrada who acted as broker in the Malampaya and PDAF scams and Dennis Cunanan, director-general (on leave) of the Technology Resource Center , which was used as conduit for the release of PDAF to ghost non=government organizations and projects.
Tuason and Cunanan have applied to be state witnesses.
The number of the respondents shows how extensive the scam’s network. The cases against the three senators and their cohorts in the PDAF scam demonstrate that the law does not distinguish the offenders social and political status.
These are just the first batch of charges. More to come.