No problem with Bong surrender
MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday described as "really good news" the decision of the Sandiganbayan First Division finding probable cause in the plunder and graft charges against Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and several others.
"It's really good news for us at the [Department of Justice] and the National Bureau of Investigation," she told reporters.
De Lima said the Sandiganbayan's decision is a validation and reaffirmation of its own investigation into the pork scam.
She also said she sees no reason why same ruling will not be made in the cases of Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile especially that similar documentary and testimonial evidence was presented before the court.
The justice chief said the NBI is ready to serve the arrest warrant once these are issued by the anti-graft court.
She also said there is no issue with the senators' request to just voluntarily surrender.
She said this also happens in ordinary cases when the accused expresses intent to just voluntarily surrender.
De Lima said it is up to the Sandiganbayan if it will order the transfer of alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to another detention facility. Napoles, who is detained in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna, is a co-accused in the plunder and graft charges filed against Revilla, et al.
The justice chief, however, said there will be a problem if the Makati regional trial court, which has original physical custody and jurisdiction of Napoles for the serious illegal detention case, will insist on keeping her in Fort Sto Domingo.
In this case, the matter of Napoles' detention will be elevated to the Supreme Court.
De Lima said the same could be said of Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general Dennis Cunanan, a co-accused in the Revilla case whose physical custody is now with the DOJ Witness Protection Program.
The justice chief said should the WPP feel that Cunanan's motion for reconsideration with Ombudsman (for immunity) still has a chance, and if Cunanan's status as provisional WPP witness still subsists, the WPP may manifest with the Sandiganbayan to retain physical custody of him.
The decision, however, rests with the Sandiganbayan, she said.
If the Sandiganbayan issues a commitment order for Cunanan's detention elsewhere, the WPP will yield.
De Lima said she met with pork barrel scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy Thursday morning to boost his morale, and the morale of the "pork" scam whistleblowers and witnesses.
"I told him he has to take care of his physical, mental and psychological health with the long, arduous battle up ahead: the trial proper," she said.
She said these are 3 separate cases in 3 separate Sandiganbayan Divisions, with the same whistleblowers and witnesses. "It's going to be very exhausting for Luy and the others."
De Lima said they have to be ready for this long battle, and assured the whistleblowers of the DOJ's full support.