Enrile urges SC to deny Ombudsman plea for special courts

Posted at 06/25/14 5:48 PM

MANILA - Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has urged the Supreme Court (SC) to deny the Office of the Ombudsman's request for the creation of special divisions at the Sandiganbayan to hear the plunder and graft cases in connection with the "pork barrel scam."

In a 4-page comment, Enrile said this is in order to preserve the independence and impartiality of those upon whose hands lie his fate and his co-accused.

Enrile said the raffle system in assigning cases at the anti-graft court, including the "pork" barrel scam cases, would suffice.

"Considering the horrendous avalanche of publicity in the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) cases, particularly against the accused senators, the creation of Special Divisions to try the cases especially with membership selected by the Supreme Court, would subvert a carefully crafted system of assuring that those who preside over a case are, and appear to be, independent and impartial.

"Worse, considering the highly charged and biased environment prevailing in regard these cases, and that the request is made by the Ombudsman, the impression that may be created is that the Supreme Court has now joined the clamor for the condemnation and punishment of those involved in the so called PDAF cases, including the accused in the case," Enrile's comment read.

Enrile also scored the Ombudsman for making the request, and not the Sandiganbayan, which, under the latter's own rules, "may request or recommend to the Supreme Court the creation of a Special Division to try cases where compelling reasons in the interest of justice so require."

Earlier, the Sandiganbayan also opposed the Ombudsman's plea citing the need to be "fair to the persons in the said cases, as well as those who are facing charges in the other cases" pending before the anti-graft court.