Bail for Bong, et al would be a 'big slap': lawyer

By Kathlyn dela Cruz,

Posted at Jun 20 2014 12:56 PM | Updated as of Jun 21 2014 03:50 AM

MANILA - Lawyer Harry Roque said it will be a "big slap" on the Aquino administration if the three senators facing plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan will be allowed to post bail.

Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. are each facing one count of plunder before the anti-graft court over their alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

Enrile is also facing 15 counts of graft, Estrada 11, and Revilla 16.

While plunder is a non-bailable offense, the Sandiganbayan may grant bail to an accused if the evidence of guilt is not strong.

Enrile and Revilla have both filed a petition for bail. Estrada is also expected to file the same petition.

Speaking to ANC's "Headstart" on Friday, Roque said the pork barrel scam case will suffer a big setback if the anti-graft court allows the three lawmakers to post bail.

He said this will send a message to the public that the administration is "incompetent" in its supposed fight against corruption.

"I think it will be a big slap on the administration," he said.

"Because it is the task of the executive to determine probable cause. Now, if they are not able to convince the Sandiganbayan that there is probable cause, it's the court telling the executive: You are wrong."

"And given that the case has become this high profile, then the people may think: Ay, this administration is either ineffectual or simply incompetent," Roque added.

He said even if the prosecution will still have the opportunity to bolster its case against the three senators and their other co-accused during trial, there is already a presumption that "the state better watch out."

Meanwhile, Roque believes the pork barrel scam case may be resolved by the end of the year, and that Enrile, Estrada and Revilla may be acquitted or convicted within that time.

He cited a new Supreme Court resolution, requiring trials to be finished in 180 days.

He said the new administrative matter came out only March this year, and that the pork barrel case will be the first high-profile proceeding that will be covered by the new order.