MANILA (Updated) -- A warrant of arrest may be issued against Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. after the anti-graft court found probable cause on the charges of plunder and graft against him in relation to the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
In a resolution, the Sandiganbayan first division chaired by Associate Justice Efren dela Cruz junked all the motions filed by Revilla in attempt to delay or stop the proceedings.
"After personally perusing the information and evaluating the joint resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman, the evidence in support thereof and the records of the preliminary investigation attached thereto, it appears that sufficient grounds exist for the finding of probable cause for the purpose of issuing a warrant of arrest against the accused charged in the instant cases," the resolution read.
Aside from Revilla, the court also ordered the issuance of arrest warrants against the senator's 32 co-accused in the plunder and graft cases.
"Wherefore, let warrants of arrest be issued against the accused in the cases set forth across their respective names," it added.
The same division junked Revilla's motion to suspend the proceedings on both plunder and graft cases.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima welcomed Revilla's impending arrest, saying they are confident that the evidence against the lawmaker is "strong."
"We have no doubt that we have a strong case, especially when we were sustained by the Ombudsman. The cases had been studied carefully. There was no rush," she told reporters.
She also advised the whistleblowers led by Benhur Luy to prepare for a "long, arduous fight," now that the cases at the Sandiganbayan are showing some progress.
"I want them to be prepared mentally, physically and emotionally," she said.
Revilla is accused of taking P242-million in the form of commissions and/or kickbacks by channeling his PDAF to bogus non-government organizations controlled by businesswoman Janet Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the pork barrel scam.
During the hearing, the camp of Revilla said that no proceedings should take place pending SC resolution on the request of the Office of the Ombudsman to create at least two special divisions to exclusively and continuously hear plunder and graft cases.
But de la Cruz argued that the SC allowed the Sandiganbayan to raffle off the cases, giving them signal not to stop the proceedings.
On Friday morning, the Sandiganbayan third division will hear all pending motions on the separate plunder and graft charges against Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, who is also opposing arrest warrant, which stemmed from his alleged involvement in the scam. Enrile allegedly pocketed P172-million of his PDAF allocations.
On same day, the Sandiganbayan fifth division is set to hear all pending motions in relation to the plunder and graft charges against Senator Jinggoy Estrada who allegedly pocketed P183-million in pork barrel funds.
All three senators were tagged as cohorts of Napoles in the scam. (With Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)