MANILA - Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. has also formally opposed the Office of the Ombudsman's plea for the creation of special divisions at the Sandiganbayan to hear the plunder and graft cases against him and several others in connection with the "pork barrel scam."
In a 4-page comment filed with the Supreme Court (SC), Revilla said such a move would be "discriminatory and unwarranted."
"Indeed, if the whole idea is to expedite the early resolution of the [Priority Development Assistance Fund] cases, then it discriminates against all the other pending cases that are of similar magnitude, similar complex issues, and similar far-reaching consequences."
"To warrant a treatment different from the rest, there must first and foremost be a valid classification based on real and substantial classification. This classification must not be merely imaginary or whimsical," Revilla's comment read.
Revilla further stressed that the Ombudsman's request ran counter to the equal protection clause of the Constitution which "guarantees all accused speedy justice -- in fact, regardless of the magnitude, complexity of the issues of the cases or their far-reaching consequences."
He also scored the Ombudsman for being "biased and discriminatory against him."
JINGGOY OPPOSED, TOO
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, also an accused in the pork barrel scam cases, also urged the high court to junk the Ombudsman's plea.
Estrada raised the issue of equal protection in his comment, as well as due process.
"The creation of special divisions with hand-picked members raises 'due process' concerns as it departs from established rules, procedure, and practice of the Sandiganbayan, and deprives Sen. Estrada of the procedural protection of a raffle of the cases among existing divisions which excludes deliberate choice of who will sit in judgment in the cases against him," Estrada's comment read.
He also stressed that the three divisions to which the cases were raffled are "all capable to hear and try the PDAF cases; thus, obviating any need to create special divisions."