SC defers action on Ombudsman’s request for creation of Sandiganbayan special divisions

By on July 1, 2014

Supreme Court of the Philippines. Photo by Mike Gonzales courtesy of Wiki Commons.
Supreme Court of the Philippines. Photo by Mike Gonzales courtesy of Wiki Commons.

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday deferred action on the request of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for the creation of special divisions of the Sandiganbayan.

The Sandiganbayan is handling the plunder cases against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Janet Lim Napoles and several others.

In a press conference, SC Public Information Office (PIO) chief and spokesman Atty. Theodore O. Te said the Court has asked all parties involved to give their position on the proposal of Ombudsman Morales for the constitution of at least two special divisions of the Sandiganbayan to hear the plunder and violation of Section 3(e) Republic Act No. 3019 or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” as well as other cases that may be filed related to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

Te said that the Court “will consider all the submissions once it resolves the Ombudsman’s request.”

Cause-oriented groups on Tuesday asked the SC to consider the public’s call for the creation of a special division in the Sandiganbayan to exclusively hear the cases involving the alleged billion-peso misuse of the PDAF.

In a petition filed before the SC, the Alternative Law Groups, through its National Coordinator Atty. Marlon Manuel, and Transparency and Accountability Network through Executive Director Vincent Lazatin said that the creation of a special division will allow the Court to hear, try and decide the case with dispatch.

They said that marathon hearings can be conducted and other measures can be adopted for a speedy resolution of the cases.

“Without a special division dedicated to the PDAF cases, we are afraid that the justice system, and the country will miss the historic opportunity to effectively and efficiently exercise and implement the accountability measures that are in place under our Constitution and laws,” they said in their petition.

As proof of the public’s call for the creation of the Sandiganbayan Special Division, the petitioners attached an online petition if they are in favor of creating a Sandiganbayan Special Division.

The petition gathered more than 3,000 signatures in less than three days.

The petition came after the Ombudsman made a request for the SC to create two Special Divisions to exclusively handle the cases related to the pork barrel scam due to the complexity of issues involved.