Sandiganbayan junks Enrile appeal on suspension

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Friday, August 22, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- The Sandiganbayan Third Division denied the appeal of detained Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, who is facing a non-bailable offense of plunder, on his 90-day suspension from office.

In a resolution, the court junked Enrile's motion for reconsideration against his suspension as senator for lack of merit, citing the Anti-Plunder law empowers the anti-graft court to suspend the respondent upon the filing of valid information.

"Here, the Court has determined that the information filed is valid and thus, it behoved the Court to issue the preventive suspension order. The present motion for reconsideration is pro-forma deserving outright denial," said the resolution signed by Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and third division chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Justices Samuel Martires and Alex Quiros.

"Unless the accused is suspended, he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both. But since preventive suspension is not a penalty, the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor if the accused Enrile remains unimpaired," it added.

In his motion for reconsideration on the court's July 24 resolution, the senior lawmaker argued that preventive suspension is an administrative measure that must be imposed in an administrative proceeding by the Senate and the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction on it.

Third division clerk of court Dennis Pulma said they will furnish Enrile's Senate office for implementation.

In a statement, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the chamber will abide by the Sandiganbayan's decision to uphold the suspension of Enrile with finality.

"We will implement it as soon as we receive the official copy of the suspension order," Drilon said.

Enrile allegedly amassed P172.8 million in kickbacks from 2004 to 2010 by channeling his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to non-government organizations of businesswoman Janet Napoles, the alleged PDAF scam mastermind.

Meanwhile, Philippine General Hospital (PGH) director Dr. Jose Gonzales asked the court to give them 15 days extension to finish Enrile's medical tests.

"In view of the requested pulmonary examination, undersigned (PGH director Jose Gonzales) further respectfully requests that he be given an extension of 15 days from August 26, 2014 or until September 10, 2014, within which to submit the PGH report or recommendation on the medical assessment on Senator Enrile," the motion said.

The lawmaker is currently under hospital arrest at the Philippine National Police General Hospital in Camp Crame, Quezon City. (Sunnex)

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