Sandiganbayan: No need for special division

by Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Jun 16 2014 07:11 PM | Updated as of Jun 17 2014 03:17 AM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan believes there is no compelling reason to create a special division or divisions to try the pork barrel scam cases.

In their comment filed before the Supreme Court, majority of the justices of the anti-graft court said the cases should be assigned to the existing divisions “to be fair to the persons involved in the said cases, as well as those who are facing charges in the other cases pending before the Sandiganbayan.”

Creating a special division would only create conflict with other equally important cases “because the justices [who might be assigned to the special division] would definitely give priority to the [Priority Development Assistance Fund] cases.”

This will subsequently affect the pending cases before the different regular divisions, the justices said.

“At any rate, the Sandiganbayan en banc is aware of the clarion call to speed up the resolution of these cases. This court undertakes to respond to such a call not only with respect to the said cases but also as to the other cases filed ahead of them and pending before it,” the justices added.

The Office of the Ombudsman had asked the high court to create a special division within the Sandiganbayan in order to hasten the resolution of the graft and plunder raps against Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr., and others accused in the pork barrel scam cases.

The SC then asked the Sandiganbayan to comment on the pleading.

The Sandiganbayan justices met on June 9 to discuss their stand.

Even though the SC has yet to rule on the Ombudsman's request for special divisions, the Sandiganbayan last Friday proceeded to raffle off the cases.

Enrile’s case went to the third division headed by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang, with Associate Justices Samuel Martires and Alex Quiroz as members.

Revilla’s case went to the first division headed by Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz, with Associate Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos as members.

Estrada's case, meanwhile, went to the 5th Division chaired by Associate Justice Roland Jurado, with Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo as member.

The fourth division had moved to inhibit from the cases.