WHILE we are eager to see them behind bars, Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla Jr. may not be jailed yet. They might come up with last-ditch legal maneuvers to stop the Sandiganbayan from issuing warrants of arrest against them.
Last week, the Office of the Ombudsman filed cases of plunder against the three senators for their alleged involvement in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam. The brain of the scam, Janet Lim-Napoles, and other personalities were also charged.
Aside from the plunder cases, the three senators were also charged with 42 cases of graft. The Commission on Audit (COA) ordered them to return the money they received as kickbacks from fake non-government organizations set up by Napoles.
The three senators said they are prepared for a worst-case scenario. Estrada and Revilla assured they would not flee while Enrile said he will dance to the music.
Their detention cell at the PNP custodial center inside Camp Crame is ready for “occupancy.”
But knowing the slow pace of our justice system, I doubt if they will be jailed immediately. Right after the cases were filed before the Sandiganbayan, the three filed petitions for the determination of probable cause.
I understand the anti-graft court will first resolve these petitions before it can issue warrants of arrest. If the petitions are denied, those charged can go to the Supreme Court and ask it to defer the issuance of the warrants of arrest.
Well, ours are just conjectures. After all, another scenario might unfurl. What about if the three senators hole themselves up in the Senate building, can they still be arrested? That is a legal issue.
Meanwhile, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was immediately arrested for the crime of electoral sabotage, plunder and graft. But considering she is a former chief executive, she was given some consideration and was placed under “hospital arrest.”
Our country is unique. We have been jailing politicians for various offenses. We jailed two former presidents and soon we will be jailing three senators. We even jailed a “god.”
Remember Philipine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) supreme master Ruben Ecleo Jr.? He was jailed for parricide for the killing of his wife, Alona. But he was allowed to post bail. He was convicted “in absentia” and is now nowhere to be found.
For PBMA members, Ecleo was a “god.”
I am scheduled to talk today before the members of the Regional Association of Development Officers in Region 7 (Radio 7) during their three-day summit at Elizabeth Hotel along Archbishop Reyes Ave. Radio 7 is an umbrella organization of associations of public information officers (PIOs) of local government units in the region and of the Association of Government Information Officers (Agio) 7. Also in the activity are tourism officers of various local government units.
Radio 7 is headed by Cebu City Government public information officer Carlo Dugaduga.
My topic is, “Broadcast Media and PIOs: Forging Relationship.”
Well, media plays two vital roles. We are an ally. We are also an adversary. We are allies in the sense that media is used by the government for information
dissemination. We are adversaries in the sense that media is a watchdog against government abuses and excesses. Media is also a catalyst for change.
The other speakers are Max Limpag, who will talk about digital media, and Sun.Star Cebu editor-in-chief Isolde Amante, who will talk about synergy between the print media and the PIOs.