MANILA, Philippines—No house arrest for Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.
This was the firm stand of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago after the three senators were found guilty for plunder.
On Tuesday, the Office of the Ombudsman announced that there was sufficient evidence to charge the three for plunder in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
“Once the Ombudsman files the case in court, it should be automatic. The Sandiganbayan will now issue an order suspending these senators from office and they should be held in detention cells,” Santiago told the reporters. “They should not be detained in air-conditioned palaces or be placed under house arrest because the people will see that there’s a difference in treatment when one is poor and when one is powerful,” she said.
Santiago, who has had heated arguments with the 90-year-old Enrile in the Senate, added that the perception that justice in the Philippines is “two-tiered” will be prevented if the three senators will be sent to regular jails.
“It’s like insulting the Ombudsman because the Ombudsman has already said that we are filing the case because we have found probable cause. We have evidence that is strong. Now, if the court allows them to post bail, it’s like saying that the evidence of the Ombudsman was weak. That will become a dilemma if the Sandiganbayan does that kind of thing,” she added.
A call for resignation
Meanwhile, the Scrap Pork Network, a group of netizens who led the massive protest at Rizal Park in August last year, is urging the three senators to resign from their posts, “In the face of overwhelming evidence, we are making an immediate call for the resignation of Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla. This, too, is overdue. In other countries a mere hint of wrongdoing is enough for public officials to resign their posts.”
“The current administration’s daang matuwid philosophy continues to be ignored by corrupt officials who steal budgets for food security or who chip away at monies intended for public infrastructure, defense systems, healthcare, education and social services,” it said.
“Seven months after our protest in Luneta, we believe that a full accounting by and prosecution of all involved are overdue,” it added.