Filing of 'pork' cases unduly rushed - lawyer
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2014 - 11:58am

MANILA, Philippines — The government rushed the filing of pork barrel scam-related plunder cases before the Sandiganbayan as seen in state prosecutors' bid to revise them, a legal expert said.

Fr. Ranhillo Aquino, San Beda Graduate School of Law dean, finds the proposed amendments to information on the plunder cases significant, indicating that prosecutors may be intending to throw all blame to senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.

"Kung nag-file ka ng original information na wala kang sinabi na 'collected directly o indirectly' ... hindi kaya na 'yung unang istory mo na 'yun ang totoo? At kaya mo lang binabago 'yung information kasi gusto mo lang idiin ang mga senador?" Aquino said in an interview with dzMM on Friday.

Also Read: Gov't prosecutors nearly jeopardized case vs Jinggoy

The jurist was referring to the prosecutors' proposal to add the phrase "collected directly or indirectly" to describe the lawmakers' actions in the funds diversion scheme.

In a memorandum to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Thursday, the special panel of prosecutors said the first paragraph of the charge sheet should "emphasize that the Senator was the one who amassed, accumulated, and acquired ill-gotten wealth in connivance or in conspiracy with his co-accused public officer and private individuals."

The Sandiganbayan First Division denied the changes on the charge sheet, but allowed only the formal amendments in the original information.

Also read: Prosecutors amend charge sheets on pork barrel cases

The respondents would then be accused not only of receiving Priority Development Assistance Funds kickbacks from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, but soliciting the money themselves.

Aquino said that the clarifications suggest that the government's cases against the accused senators are weaker than they seemed.

"The other thing, maliwanag din na kung mga ganyang ang gusto mong amyendahan, gusto mong liwanagin na ang krimen ay talagang plunder, ibig sabihin din na talagang minadali mo 'yung pag-file ng information," the lawyer explained.

The Sandiganbayan's move to junk the proposed amendments, however, was something Aquino questioned.

He said prosecutors followed the process in filing the amendments before Revilla was arraigned on Thursday. - Camille Diola

ALSO READ AQUINO CAMILLE DIOLA JANET LIM NAPOLES JUAN PONCE ENRILE AND JINGGOY ESTRADA OMBUDSMAN CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES PRIORITY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FUNDS PROSECUTORS RANHILLO AQUINO REVILLA
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