Senate won't suspend Jinggoy, Enrile yet

By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 31 2014 04:04 AM | Updated as of Jul 31 2014 12:04 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate has notified the Sandiganbayan that the 90-day suspension orders Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada have not been enforced since the two senators have filed motions for reconsideration before the anti-graft court.

Senate President Franklin Drilon manifested however that the leadership is ready to comply with its order to suspend Estrada and Enrile, who are now jailed for plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.

In two separate motions of compliance and manifestation filed before the Third and Fifth divisions, respectively, Drilon said his office had received the two orders for Estrada and Enrile. The motions signed by lawyer Renato Bantug Jr., the Senate president’s chief of staff.

Bantug said the Senate put on hold the suspension orders for Enrile and Estrada since their respective offices have informed them that motions of recommendations are being filed.

“…this Office hereby manifests that it would take appropriate action on the suspension order upon this Honorable Court’s disposition of the motion for reconsideration, or upon the lapse of the prescribed period to file for a motion for reconsideration and no such motion is filed,” read the three-page motion filed before the Third Division.

The plunder case against Enrile is pending before the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division while Estrada’s case is handled by the First Division. “There is status quo,” Bantug said in an interview.

The Senate filed a similar motion of compliance and manifestation in the case of Estrada last week, Bantug said.

Estrada and Enrile are under police detention along with Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. for plunder and graft charges over misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Revilla has not been slapped with any suspension yet.

Earlier, Drilon said the Senate leadership will comply with the Sandiganbayan's orders.

Sotto withdraws reso for pork senators

In another development, Senate deputy minority leader Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday withdrew a Senate resolution that would have expressed the intent of the body that they support the continuous detention of Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Estrada and Enrile at Camp Crame.

Sotto said he got legal advice from some well-meaning friends, who recommended that the resolution should be reviewed.

“I thought it would be best to review it first compare it to the other resolutions before like in the case of Sen. Trillanes so that it might not be misinterpreted or misunderstood as the Senate interfering with the judicial proceedings,” he said.

Villar supports Crame detention

Meanwhile, Sen. Cynthia Villar said she does not see any problem if the Senate would pass a resolution that would allow the three embattled senators’ continued detention at Camp Crame.

“I’m always supportive of the welfare of our colleagues in the Senate. Tayo naman ay nakikisama naman sa mga kapwa natin senador. Wala naman akong problema doon,” Villar said.

Villar expressed her opinion that any resolution to the effect of allowing Enrile, Revilla and Estrada to stay at Camp Crame will not be perceived as interfering with the legal system. “… because they will decide in the end. The Court will decide,” she said.

“It’s just a resolution to show support but in the end, I think the legal question on the place of detention will always be in the hands of the courts, the Sandiganbayan,” Mrs. Villar said.

“It would be expected at the Senate that we will be kind with our fellow senators…And whether the Sandiganbayan will listen to us is another story. Personally, its not party stand or what, but you have to be kind to your fellow senators,” she added.