MANILA — A possible delay in the arrest of the three senators implicated in the pork barrel scam is no surprise, a Malacanang official said Saturday.
Among the senators charged with graft and plunder include Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte raised the issue following reports that the arrest could take longer than 10 days depending on how long justices determine a probable cause for trial and issue a warrant of arrest.
“That is not out of the ordinary considering the voluminous documents that have been submitted as part of the evidence of the Office of the Ombudsman,” Valte said in an interview over state-run dzRB radio.
She said that the documents needed to support the filing of charges against, not just the three senators, but also all the respondents that are included in the multiple cases that have been filed.
“It’s not just how complicated the case is, but the sheer volume of documents,” the spokesperson added in Filipino. “It’s no surprise if they will need some time.”
Valte meanwhile said that it will be up to the Sandiganbayan to decide to grant Sen. Enrile his petition for bail arguing that there was insufficient evidence against him and citing his old age and health concerns.
“Those factors, it will be up to the division hearing his case on how to consider the factors that he has raised,” she said.
In reaction to the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) statement that the senators facing charges may still run in the 2016 elections despite the plunder and graft raps filed against them, Valte said that it was after all consistent with the Constitution.
“That is constituent with the Constitution that states that innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “The filing of the cases is only the next step. There has not yet been any conviction.”