SC: No decision yet on creation of special courts for PDAF cases

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

DESPITE the opposition of the Sandiganbayan, the Supreme Court (SC) has deferred its decision on the request of the Office of the Ombudsman to create at least two special divisions for the prosecution of pork barrel scam cases.

SC spokesperson Theodore Te said Tuesday the justices opted to wait for comments coming from other parties to the cases.

So far, only the Sandiganbayan and Richard Cambe, co-accused of Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., in the plunder and graft charges have submitted their positions on the Ombudsman's call, which cited "national magnitude, complexities, number of accused and far-reaching consequences" of the cases as reasons for the request.

The SC on June 10 gave the Sandiganbayan and parties three days from notice to file their comments.

For its part, the Sandiganbayan said "there is no compelling reason and/or imperative need" to have special courts as this might be unfair to the persons implicated in the cases and those who have pending charges not related to the controversy.

The anti-graft court also feared "conflict" with other "equally important cases" being handled by the justices because they would definitely prioritize the resolution of charges related to alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), where public interest is high.

Three divisions will try and decide on the cases against Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Revilla, who allegedly received kickbacks from co-accused Janet Napoles for channeling their PDAF to her fake non-government organizations (NGOs).

The three senators, Napoles and their co-respondents have already been barred from leaving the country without the Sandiganbayan's consent. (Sunnex)

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