13 tagged in 'pork scam' still at large
MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - As actor-senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada shared the limelight for their highly publicized surrender for plunder and graft cases, dozens of their co-accused shied away from the media and quietly faced charges against them.
The Sandiganbayan on Friday ordered the arrest of Revilla and 32 others implicated in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
Aanother warrant was issued Monday, this time for Estrada and 25 of his co-accused.
Out of the 25, 22 were also included in the Revilla warrant.
They came in to post bail and undergo booking process, one after the other, at one point forming a slow-moving line inside the clerk of court’s office.
The Philippine National Police said 7 of Estrada's co-accused are still unaccounted for, including his former chief of staff, Pauline Therese Mary Labayen. Sixteen of his co-accused have surrendered and posted bail.
Meanwhile, 11 of Revilla's co-accused are still at large.
A total of 13 co-accused in the cases remain at large, as some names appear twice in the separate warrants.
Those who have arrest warrants and have not surrendered as of Wednesday are:
- Pauline Therese Mary Labayen
- John Raymund Asis
- Romulo Relevo
- Antonio Ortiz
- Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal
- Sofia Cruz
- Evelyn Sugcang
- Ronald John Lim
- Myla Ogerio
- Laarni Uy
- Allan Javellana
- Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson
- Ofelia Ordonez
Nineteen others have surrendered and posted bail.
As most of them are facing multiple charges of graft, some of the accused are asked to post over P1 million in bail to ensure temporary liberty.
They include Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and DBM employees Rosario Nunez, Lalaine Paule, and Marilou Bare.
With each of them facing 42 counts of violation of the anti-graft law in 3 Sandiganbayan divisions, they are looking at bail of P5,040,000.
Two of the divisions granted their petition and slashed half off their bail.
The court's third division, which is handling the case against Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, has yet to find probable cause but some have anticipated their arrest warrant and filed a motion to reduce bail from the usual P30,000 per count to only P5,000.
Their motion described the Relampagos, Nunez, Paule, and Bare as, "poor and ordinary officials of the DBM," with no means of producing almost half a million pesos in bail money.
Cunanan still seeks immunity
After the Ombudsman denied Technology Resource Center director-general-on-leave Dennis Cunanan's bid to become a state witness and gain immunity, the court slapped him with multiple arrest warrants.
Cunanan immediately posted bail and his lawyers said he has not given up hope in gaining immunity.
Cunanan, along with National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR) officials Rhodora Mendoza and Victor Roman Cacal, earlier appeared before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and pinned down the 3 senators tagged in the scam.
However, the Ombudsman downplayed their affidavits saying there is "no absolute necessity for their testimonies."
Cunanan's lawyers said his motion for reconsideration is pending with the Ombudsman.
Moments after Revilla surrendered at the Sandiganbayan on Friday, his former legislative officer, Atty. Richard Cambe, arrived at the Sheriff’s office to turn himself in.
Cambe is facing plunder and 16 counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
His legal counsel, Atty. Michael Ancheta, said Cambe was a member of Revilla’s legislative staff and was not his chief of staff, as earlier reported.
With the swiftness of the issuance of the warrant of arrest, Ancheta doubts Sandiganbayan justices were able to appreciate the merits of the case. He hopes they will be given the opportunity to defend his client properly during the trial.
Labayen, Estrada's former chief of staff, is among 7 of the senator's co-accused who are still at large.
Enrile's former chief of staff Gigi Reyes earlier stated her willingness to surrender to the Sandiganbayan once a warrant for her arrest is issued.