PDAF scam update: Revilla, Napoles Arraigned
The billion-peso PDAF scam proceedings have reached a peak in the past week following the arrests of two out of three high-profile suspects who allegedly took part in the misuse of public funds.
Here is a rundown of the events so far:
- 20 June – Senator Bong Revilla surrendered at the Sandiganbayan for the charges of graft and plunder. He was subsequently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Centre in Camp Crame.
Evidence purports he channelled Php1.2b of his PDAF funds into alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles’ fake NGOs.
- 23 June – Senator Jinggoy Estrada surrendered in Camp Crame for the charges of graft and plunder. He was subsequently held in the same centre as Revilla. He is claimed as the biggest PDAF scam contributor at Php1.6b channelled to fake NGOs.
- 24 June – Pending the arrest warrant for Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, President Benigno Aquino III announced he wished jailers will be more considerate toward the senator’s arrest. Enrile is accused of channelling Php683m PDAF funds to fake NGOs.
Enrile’s camp has questioned the basis of probable cause in the charges against him. However, an arrest warrant maybe served any time now.
- 26 June – Revilla and Napoles arraigned at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court. A confident Revilla refused to enter a plea after hearing the charges against him. Meanwhile, a more nervous Napoles pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges.
20 other public officials and Napoles’ workers were arraigned, including Technology Resource Centre (TRC) Director General Dennis Cunanan, Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor) director Rhodora Mendoza.
Aside from the arraignment, Napoles, her brother Ronald John Lim and their ‘all around errand boy’ John Raymund De Asis filed a petition to post bail at the Sandiganbayan on the grounds of weak evidence.
- 27 June – Sandiganbayan hears a special prosecutor’s motion to change a few statements in the plunder charge documents against Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
The prosecutors aim to rephrase certain information in the documents to emphasise Estrada as a mastermind in the scam: ‘The introductory paragraph may be rephrased to emphasise that the senator (Estrada) was the one who amassed, accumulated and acquired ill-gotten wealth in connivance with his co-accused.’
The same information will be logged into the charge documents of Juan Ponce Enrile. This was also intended in Revilla’s charge documents; however, it was denied during his arraignment.
Meanwhile, the PNP clarified two details following Thursday’s arraignment of Revilla and Napoles. When asked why Revilla was not handcuffed and why he wasn’t wearing prison attire, PNP explained that the senator was not a ‘flight risk’ since he surrendered voluntarily.
PNP added that since the accused were ‘famous people,’ they were easy to identify and are not required to wear identifying prison garbs. However, the PNP may need identification marks on the vehicles of Revilla and Napoles.
After the arraignment, Napoles was mistakenly escorted to Revilla’s coaster, which was bound for Camp Crame. After realising the mix-up, Napoles’ police escorts brought her back to Sandiganbayan and waited for the correct coaster that eventually brought her to Fort Santo Domingo, Laguna.