MANILA — Senate deputy minority leader Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday filed a resolution asking senators to allow their three colleagues to stay at the Camp Crame detention center to allow them to continue to function as elected senators.
Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. are currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) detention center in Camp Crame, Quezon City for plunder and graft charges filed against them in connection with the pork barrel scam.
”While the hearing of the charges against three incumbent senators are being heard by the Sandiganbayan, their detention at the Camp Crame compound of the PNP be maintained in order that they may have the space to continue to function as duly elected representatives of the people on the constitutional principle that the accused are presumed innocent until final conviction by the proper court,” Sotto said in his Senate Resolution 798.
Sotto cited Section 14, Article 3 of the Constitution which provides: “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved…”
Although anti-graft court approved the 90-day preventive suspension to Enrile and Estrada, Sotto said Section 16, Article VI of the Constitution also provides the Senate “may punish its members for disorderly behavior” with at least 60-day suspension.
The Sandiganbayan’s third division has yet to decide on the Ombudsman’s recommendation to slap 90-day suspension to Revilla.
The three detained senators were marked absent during last Monday’s Senate opening of the second regular session of the 16th Congress.
Sotto said the absence of Enrile and Estrada will greatly affect the minority considering Enrile was the minority leader at the time the plunder charges were filed against them for allegedly receiving kickbacks from their pork barrel released to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).