No SC decision yet on special division for PDAF cases

Posted at 06/17/14 3:21 PM

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has deferred its ruling on the request for the creation of a special division at the Sandiganbayan that will handle cases involving the pork barrel scam.

SC spokesperson Theodore Te said the high court has so far only received the comments of the Sandiganbayan justices and one respondent in the pork barrel case, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.'s senior staff member, Richard Cambe.

Te said the high court will only make a ruling once all the comments are in.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier sent a letter-request to the high court asking for the creation of at least two special divisions at the Sandiganbayan to focus on the trial of the "pork" cases.

Pork barrel is officially known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The scam saw billions of PDAF money allegedly plundered by lawmakers and government officials, some in connivance with operators of fake non-government organizations.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio 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 also created a special prosecution panel composed of three teams to handle the first set of criminal cases filed in connection with the PDAF controversy.

The anti-graft court, meanwhile, already said that there is no such need for the creation of a special division.

In their comment filed before the SC, majority of the justices of the anti-graft court said the cases should be assigned to the existing divisions ''to be fair to the persons involved in the said cases, as well as those who are facing charges in the other cases pending before the Sandiganbayan." – report from Alex Calda, dzMM