MANILA—Three senators accused of plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam are against the request of the Office of the Ombudsman for the creation of special divisions of the Sandiganbayan to handle the cases involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
This was based on the comments submitted before the Supreme Court (SC) by the camps of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr.
In his comment, Enrile cited that the creation of special divisions may affect the independence and impartiality of the magistrates who will be assigned in the special divisions in the face of the extensive publicity in the case of the PDAF.
Enrile argued that if the SC grants the request of the Ombudsman, it may create an impression or a view that the SC is joining the condemnation against those allegedly involved in the controversy.
In his comment, Revilla maintained that the creation of special divisions of the Sandiganbayan is discriminating to other similar cases which are pending before the Sandiganbayan because it would appear that the case of PDAF will be given a different treatment.
Revilla argued that there is no truth to the claim of the Ombudsman of equal protection clause of the Constitution as the basis for the creation of special divisions because under the Constitution, the speedy dispensation of justice is guaranteed to all accused however heavy or extensive the case is.
For his part, Estrada believes that the weight of the PDAF case is not a sufficient basis for the creation of special divisions because the current three Sandiganbayan Divisions have the capability to hear the cases.
He added that the request of the Ombudsman for the creation of special divisions is contrary to the principle of equal protection of the law and due process.