MANILA, Philippines - There is enough room in the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City to accommodate the three senators and 51 others facing arrest for plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP Public Information Office director, gave the assurance yesterday as warrants for the arrest of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and the other accused are expected to be issued anytime by the Sandiganbayan following the filing of criminal charges against them.
He said the PNP Custodial Center currently has only 70 inmates vis-à-vis its 130-man capacity.
“At this point, the PNP is ready to take the high profile detainees that will be committed to us by the Sandiganbayan. The Custodial Center is prepared,” Sindac said.
He said security arrangements are being made to allow members of the media to check the conditions at the custodial center.
“Of course we are ready to carry out whatever orders we receive from the Sandiganbayan or from any court – or whoever they commit to us. That’s the focus of our preparations,” he said.
He noted that the 56 detention cells, each measuring about three meters by three meters, are at par with international standards. Each detention cell has a double-deck bed, mattress, basic toilet, running water, pail and dipper.
Last Friday, the Office of the Ombudsman filed plunder charges with the Sandiganbayan against the three senators and several others, including suspected pork barrel fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Napoles is already under detention at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for serious illegal detention filed by whistle-blower and former employee Benhur Luy.
At the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the 90-year-old Enrile should not be detained in a regular jail if ever a warrant for his arrest is issued.
“Even the law allows some leniency in the case of persons who are already of advanced age,” he said. “More so like him, and I’m in favor (of some form of leniency),” Belmonte told reporters.
He said Enrile can be placed under house arrest or “at least not the usual thing where they confine you in an area or in an enclosure.”
He said Estrada and Revilla, at least, are still young and “they are at their best and at their strongest.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano is pushing for live coverage of the hearings on cases against the accused, saying this would hasten the trial and “provide answers to the many questions that we have.”
“One of the questions is, will it take 10 years, will it take five years? The other question is, what will happen if the one who wins (in 2016) is their ally? The live coverage will answer all of this because the trial will be quick and all sides will make sure that it will be fair,” Cayetano said.
Sen. Grace Poe aired her support for the proposal, saying this would help remove whatever doubts people may have about how the trial is conducted.
Even Enrile is open to the idea.
“Better, so that the people will know the truth,” he said. With Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy