Ombudsman amends charges to emphasize 'plunder' by 3 senators

Posted at 06/25/14 5:35 PM

MANILA - The Ombudsman's Office of the Special Prosecutor moved to amend the information or charges filed at the Sandiganbayan in order to put more emphasis on the alleged plunder of public money by Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Juan Ponce Enrile.

The prosecution is asking for the inclusion of the phase "collecting directly or indirectly" instead of the simpler word "receiving" kickbacks from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

Defense lawyers earlier slammed the information or charges filed against the three senators, saying these only put emphasis on the alleged crime of Napoles. They said that if it was only Napoles who profited from the pork barrel transactions, there is no plunder to speak of on the part of the senators.

The prosecution also wants to add the phrase, "by exerting undue pressure on the implementing agencies to favorably act on his endorsement of the NGOs of Napoles to ensure that his [Priority Development Assistance Fund] be in the possession and control of Napoles and her cohorts which undue pressure and endorsement, were in exchange of kickbacks percentage or commissions, thereby unjustly enriching himself,” to the charges against the senators.

This means the prosecution wants to emphasize that the senator was the one "who amassed, accumulated and acquired ill-gotten wealth in connivance or in conspiracy with co-accused public officer and private individuals.”

Revilla’s arraignment has been scheduled for tomorrow, June 26.

As a rule, substantial amendments can be done on the charges filed before the arraignment.

This will be open to questioning by the defense, however. The defense may have leeway to postpone the arraignment. - from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News