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Senators Enrile, Estrada, Revilla ready for arrest; ex-Senate chief says he's set even to die in jail Featured

QUEZON CITY – As she pledged while in New York, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales elevated last week the plunder charges against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and several others for trial before the Sandiganbayan in connection with P10 billion pork barrel scam.
In addition, the Ombudsman filed on Monday multiple counts of graft cases also against the three senators, Napoles and others before the graft court.
 
The filing of the charges came as the Ombudsman denied the separate motions for reconsideration and other petitions filed by the Senators and other respondents, claiming that evidence against them were strong.
The Ombudsman also earlier denied the petition of Napoles to turn as government witness, pointing out that the alleged pork barrel scam queen was not the least guilty of the plunder charges.
Amidst his imminent arrest, Senator Revilla delivered a privilege speech on the Senate floor reinforced with his video singing an original song related to the case expressing readiness to face detention. Revilla also bid goodbye to his colleagues, family, friends and almost 20 million who voted for him in 2010 while his teary-eyed wife, Congresswoman Lani Mercado-Revilla of the lone district of Bacoor City, son Cavite Vice Governor Ramon "Jolo" Revilla III and other relatives listened at the gallery.
Revilla also joined Senator Estrada in appealing that Senator Enrile, who is 90 years old, be spared from detention due to old age even as he recognized Enrile as the country's foremost statesman.
 
 Enrile, for his part, said he has packed all his things and is ready for his arrest and detention, adding  he is ready to die in jail.
"Why should I resist? I am a lawyer. I know the process. Why should I resist? I have no reason to resist," said the hero of the EDSA Revolution of 1986 who earlier was also hailed for his role in the Senate Impeachment Tribunal that removed Chief Justice Renato Corona only to be made a villain by the Aquino administration in the pork barrel scam.
"I have been prepared since several days ago. I have already packed up my things to bring into Camp Crame if it is where we're going to be confined," Enrile said.
He said he has no problem if an arrest warrant against him is served at the Senate where he was once arrested on charges of rebellion complex during the term of then President Corazon Aquino.
Meanwhile, the US Justice Department has started looking into two bank accounts under the companies owned by Napoles, GMA News' “24 Oras' reported on Monday.
 
Based on information gathered by GMA News, Napoles' company, Western Investment Corp., made eight dollar deposits to Hanmi Bank in the US from September to October 2006 amounting to $3.5 million.
 
Another company owned by Napoles, Western Ventures Management, meanwhile had eight fund tranfers amounting to more than $1 million from October 2006 to July 2007 also to Hanmi Bank.
 
The US Justice Department is now scrutinizing the two bank accounts in accordance with a request from the Philippines' Department of Justice (DOJ), “24 Oras” reported.
In another development, the Commission on Audit (COA) has asked three senators and four congressmen to return a total of P1.83 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations irregularly disbursed to nongovernment organizations (NGOs) in 2007-2009.
COA Chair Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan said her office issued 19 notices of disallowance to the seven lawmakers early this year, belying the claim of Greco Antonious Beda Belgica Jr. and three others who claimed that the COA had not done so.
Tan said the COA would issue 27 more notices covering P4.96 billion soon.
 
Tan said the COA special audit of the pork barrel for 2007-2009 also showed that P6.2 billion, sourced from the PDAF of 12 senators and 180 representatives, was transferred by different agencies to 82 NGOs.
In another report, the COA said P195 million in PDAF of three incumbent senators and a former congressman went to dubious NGOs in 2011.
The audit report identified then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, then Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. and then Buhay Rep. Rene Velarde as the sources of the P206 million in PDAF for the Department of Agriculture that was released in several batches in 2009 and 2010.
THE former chief of staff of beleaguered Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has urged the Supreme Court to annul the finding of probable cause for the crime of plunder against her and several others in connection with the controversial multi-billion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
 
Lawyer Jessica Lucila Reyes, former chief of staff of Enrile, asked the SC to stop the Ombudsman from prosecuting the case claiming that she had been denied of due process when documents related to the case were not given to her.
 
The High Court gave the Ombudsman a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice to answer Reyes’ suit.    
Other developments -
1. In case incumbent lawmakers will be charged with plunder or graft before the Sandiganbayan, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. assured them of continued membership and even perks and benefits just like Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
 
In a media forum, Belmonte said congressmen who will be charged with the cases will not be stripped of their title and will continue to get their salaries, allowances and entitlements.
 
2. THE Sandiganbayan on Tuesday allowed  Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla Jr. to post bail of P30,000 for each count of graft filed against them in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Facing 15 counts of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Enrile and his co-accused were allowed to post P450,000 bail for their provisional liberty.
 
 
I
Bail of P330,000 was recommended for Estrada and his co-accused, who face 11 counts of graft.
 
Bail was set at P480,000 for Revilla and his co-accused, who face 16 counts.
 
Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the pork barrel scam, and her co-accused were also allowed to post bail of P1.26 million on 42 counts of graft.
 
As of Tuesday, none of the accused had posted bail, recommended by M.A. Christian Uy, graft investigation and prosecution officer IV.
 
The bail, however, will be useless because their case of plunder does not allow bail for them.
 
3. Government auditors have unearthed another massive pork barrel-related anomaly that could dwarf the P10-billion scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
 
The Commission on Audit (COA) discovered that at least P16.9-billion infrastructure projects bankrolled by the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of lawmakers and the Malampaya gas fund in 2009 and 2010 were either grossly overpriced or peppered with irregularities.
4. The people can see through deception and lies, Malacañang stressed  in reaction to Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.’s claim that the charges against him in connection with the pork barrel fund scam were politically motivated.
 
Belgica et al. petitioned the Supreme Court on Friday to compel Tan and COA Director Susana Garcia to issue notices of disallowance to those responsible for channeling P6.2 billion in PDAF to NGOs.
A special audit of the COA, released in August last year, said funds totaling P6.2 billion were transferred to 82 NGOs “in clear violation of the law” from 2007 to 2009.
The audit noted that the NGOs were “either unknown or could not be located at their given addresses, or have given nonexistent addresses, or were traced to mere shanties or high-end residences, which turned out to be residences of their owners/officers.”
It said 10 NGOs linked to Janet Lim-Napoles were on the list.
In their petition, Reuben Abante, Jose Gonzales and Mandamus Quintin Paredes told the high court that fellow petitioner Belgica had sent Tan a letter reminding her of her promise to issue the notices but did not get a reply.
 
”I’m ready to be detained and to sacrifice because I know the truth shall prevail at the right time,” Revilla said in what he considered "possibly my last privilege speech."
Revilla said he is now leaving his fate in court’s hands even as he reiterated his innocence.
”I said it before, my conscience is clear. Now that case has been filed against us, let me face it in court. Leave it to the court and I will defend myself there,” he said.
Revilla also appealed to stop the mudslinging and instead focus on addressing the problems of the country.
The senator also urged President Benigno Aquino III to continue in leading the country “not with hatred but with love” in his two remaining years in Malacanang.
Revilla asked the media for their “commitment to responsibility and their sensitivities.”
”It is very difficult to build name to be destroyed in a twinkling of an eye. What if those destroyed names have been proven innocents? Can we bring back their clean reputation and dignities?,” he asked.
Nevertheless, Revilla believed that the Sandiganbayan will not allow injustice to prevail.
As he thanked God for divine guidance, Revilla also expressed gratitude to his father, former senator Ramon Revilla Sr., and his family including wife Bacoor congresswoman and actress Lani Mercado, and son Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla III, who joined his throng of supporters that jampacked the Senate session hall gallery.
He also thanked his colleagues, leaving message to each one of them beginning from Senate President Franklin Drilon.
”I pray that you, as the leader of this chamber, will be successful in rebuilding this institution. Fight for this institution,” Revilla told Drilon.
To Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III, Revilla said, “You are still my friend. Lead the Blue Ribbon Committee in fulfilling its true mandate.”
An emotional Revilla managed to laugh when he gave message to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, another senator charged in pork scam, and fellow actor Sen. Lito Lapid.
”Kosa, hanggang dito ba naman magkasama tayo? Pinagtatawanan tayo siguro ni Daboy ngayon.” (Fellow inmate, even here we’re still together? Daboy is laughing at us), Revilla said, referring to the late actor Rudy Fernandez.
To Lapid, Revilla said: “My friend Lito, you’re the Leon Guerrero of Filipino masses. You’re really the hero of the masses.”
Revilla also gave message to veteran senator Juan Ponce Enrile whom he called “one of the greatest leaders of this country.”
”Your brilliance, your experience, brought a culture of excellence not only to this institution but to every institution you have led. You are undoubtedly the ultimate statesman,” Revilla said of Enrile.
Revilla also thanked partymates former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, LAKAS-CMD president Martin Romualdez, and former President Fidel V. Ramos, as well as Vice President Jejomar Binay, and former President Joseph Estrada.
Revilla finished his privileged speech with a music video presentation entitled “Salamat, Kaibigan” (Thank you friend). 
The Office of the Ombudsman  slapped 42 counts of graft against Sens. Enrile, Revilla and Estrada, Napoles, two of her children, officials of government firms and private persons at the Sandiganbayan.
The cases of graft  were in connection with alleged fraudulent transactions involving a total of P1.14 billion Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) or the pork barrel funds from 2004 to 2010.
 

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