Enrile's suspension by Sandigan unconstitutional - Mendoza

By Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2014 06:04 PM | Updated as of Jul 23 2014 02:04 AM

MANILA - Senator Juan Ponce Enrile's lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, on Tuesday argued that a preventive suspension by the Sandiganbayan against Enrile may be unconstitutional.

During the hearing of the anti-graft court's Third Division on the prosecution's motion to suspend Enrile from office, Mendoza pointed out that the Constitution says that a senator can only be suspended by a two-thirds vote by the Senate.

The prosecution, however, argued that the constitutional provision cited by Mendoza only applies to administrative charges.

Enrile, who is accused of amassing P172 million in pork barrel kickbacks, is facing one count of plunder and 15 counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan.

In its motion to suspend pendente lite or pending trial filed against Enrile, the prosecution panel cited the plunder law, which states that an official accused of plunder should be suspended to prevent him from intimidating witnesses or tampering with the evidence.

The prosecution admitted that Enrile's suspension may be unkind, as raised by Mendoza, but it still needs to be ordered by the court to prevent the senator from using his position to influence the case.

Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and Third Division chair Amparo Cabotaje-Tang declared the motion to suspend Enrile is submitted for resolution.