Suspension sought for gov’t execs linked to ‘pork’ scam
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Government prosecutors are seeking the suspension of a budget undersecretary and nine other government officials facing trial for alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam.

In their motion before the Sandiganbayan Third Division, the prosecutors cited Section 13 of Republic Act 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which states: “Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property whether as a simple or as complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation is pending in court shall be suspended from office.”

Prosecutors are referring to Budget and Management Undersecretary for operations Mario Relampagos, Budget and Management specialist chief Rosario Salamida Nuñez and administrative assistants Lalaine Narag Paule and Marilou Dialino Bare; Technology Resource Center chief accountant Marivic Jover, National Livelihood Development Corporation president Gondelina Amata, project development officer Sofia Cruz and directors Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Chita Jalandoni and Gregoria Buenaventura.

Prosecutors said the 10 were arraigned on Nov. 19.

Some of them refused to enter a plea, while others entered a plea of not guilty, they added.

Prosecutors said Deputy Special Prosecutors John Turalba and Manuel Soriano Jr. used the same provision in seeking the suspension of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr., and Jinggoy Estrada. 

“Considering that the said accused were charged and arraigned under a valid  information, the suspension of the above-named accused should proceed accordingly,”  they said.

Meanwhile, Revilla will know next week if he will spend Christmas and the New Year with his family at home or in his cell in Camp Crame.

The Sandiganbayan will rule on Revilla’s petition for bail within the next few days.

Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said the First Division has not yet received a response from the Supreme Court (SC)  regarding its request last Nov. 22 for more time to rule on Revilla’s petition for bail.

Prosecutors have presented some 10 witnesses, including Benhur Luy, to prove their case.

Defense lawyers presented only one witness, a handwriting expert who testified that all signatures in documents pointing to Revilla’s alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam were forgeries.

The prosecution and the defense have expressed confidence that the Sandiganbayan will rule in their favor.

Prosecutors said they were able to build a strong case, but the defense believes that the government failed to substantiate accusations that Revilla had pocketed public funds.

The anti-graft court’s decision on Revilla’s bail petition will also cover his former chief of staff lawyer Richard Cambe and alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. 

P5,725 for Jinggoy

Spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is spending only P5,725 for detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada whenever he goes to Cardinal Santos Hospital in San Juan for therapy.

The Headquarters Support Service under Chief Superintendent Alberto Supapo reported that some P5,725 was spent yesterday for a nine-minute travel of Estrada’s convoy and another nine minutes on the  way back to Camp Crame, he added.

No other expenses were incurred other than for gasoline since the PNP does not need to shoulder the food for police officers escorting Estrada, Supapo said.

The expenses were far less than the reported P40,000 spent for the senators when they attend their hearing for plunder and graft at the Sandiganbayan. 

The PNP reportedly spent about P120,000 every day Janet Lim-Napoles went out when she was detained in Fort Sto. Domingo Sta. Rosa, Laguna, including security, food and gasoline expenses. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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