SC urged to create special courts for pork scam trials

Posted at 06/06/14 9:20 PM

MANILA - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Friday asked the Supreme Court to create at least two Sandiganbayan Special Divisions to exclusively try the cases involving the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

Morales, in a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said the "national magnitude, complexities of issues involved, the number of accused, and the far-reaching consequences" of the cases require Sandiganbayan special divisions.

The Ombudsman invoked the Constitution and the Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan in her request.

Morales cited as precedent the Supreme Court's January 21, 2002 Resolution in A.M. No. 02-1-07-SC wherein the high tribunal created a Sandiganbayan special division to hear, try and decide on the plunder case and all related cases filed against former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada and his co-accused.

She said Section 5, par. 5, Article VIII of the Constitution states that the Supreme Court has the power to "[p]romulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts,” while Section 3, Rule III, Part I of the Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan provides for the creation of a special division “where compelling reasons and the interest of justice so require.”

The Office of the Ombudsman on Friday afternoon filed with the Sandiganbayan the three informations for plunder against Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Senator Jinggoy Estrada and their respective co-accused.

The other sets of informations for violations of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the pork barrel scam will be filed next week, the Ombudsman said in a press statement.

Morales also created a special prosecution panel composed of 3 teams to handle the first set of criminal cases filed in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund controversy.

Deputy Special Prosecutor John Turalba and Acting Deputy Special Prosecutor Manuel Soriano Jr. co-chair the prosecution panel.

The panel’s first team is composed of Acting Director Janina Hidalgo as team leader, with Assistant Special Prosecutors Edwin Gomez, Jennifer Agustin-Se and Annielyn Medes-Cabellis as members.

The panel’s second team is composed of Acting Director Danilo Lopez as team leader, with Assistant Special Prosecutors Christina Marallag-Batacan, Anna Isabel Aurellano and Peter Jedd Boco as members.

The panel’s third team is composed of Acting Director Joefferson Toribio as team leader, with Assistant Special Prosecutors Jacinto Dela Cruz, Lyn Dimayuga and Emerita Francia as members.

The teams will prosecute the cases against Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla -- and their respective co-accused -- respectively.