By Sammy F. Martin
MANILA, July 25 (PNA) — Detained Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was slapped with a 90-day preventive suspension by the Sandiganbayan Third Division on Friday, pending litigation of the P172-million plunder case he is facing in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam.
“Accused Juan Ponce Enrile is hereby suspended from his position as senator of the Republic of the Philippines and from any other public office that he may now or hereafter be holding for a period of 90 days from receipt of this resolution unless a motion for reconsideration isreasonably filed,” Sandiganbayan Third Division executive clerk of court Dennis Pulma said.
Pulma told reporters in an interview that they will send a copy of the Sandiganbayan order to the Office of the Senate President.
He said the court needs to be notified on the date of theeffectivity of the suspension which will be automatically lifted after 90 days.
Enrile, who is accused of amassing P172 million in pork barrel kickbacks, is facing one count of plunder and 15 counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan.
In its motion to suspend pendente lite or pending trial filed against Enrile, the prosecution panel cited the plunder law, which states that an official accused of plunder should be suspended to prevent him from intimidating witnesses or tampering with the evidence.
The prosecution admitted that Enrile’s suspension may be unkind, as raised by lawyer Estelito Mendoza, but it still needs to be ordered by the court to prevent the senator from using his position to influence the case.
Last week, detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada was ordered suspended by the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division which underscored the need for the anti-graft court to suspend him because his stay in office “may frustrate the prosecution of the crime, if not prejudice the case filed against him.”
Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act states that “Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under the provision of the Revised Penal Code on bribery is pending in court shall be suspended from Office.” (PNA)