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3 Philippine senators charged with plunder

By Oliver Teves

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:15 p.m. HST, Jun 06, 2014

MANILA » Philippine government prosecutors filed corruption charges Friday against three senators who allegedly received millions of dollars in kickbacks from funds allocated for projects for the poor.

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, former Senate Protempore Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. were charged with plunder, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and is non-bailable.

Also charged were about half a dozen other people, including businesswoman Janet Napoles, who allegedly created dummy aid organizations used as fronts to receive government funds intended for agriculture and livelihood projects and from where the kickbacks were obtained.

The three senators have denied involvement in the scam, which triggered public outraged and a massive anti-corruption rally last year. Another rally has been scheduled for next week.

A lawyer for Revilla, who is a former action movie actor, said he would ask the anti-graft court to first review the evidence and not to immediately issue arrest warrants.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales asked the Supreme Court to create at least two special divisions of the anti-graft court for the trials because of the "far-reaching consequences" of the cases. She said additional graft charges would be filed next week.

The three senators are among the most senior state officials charged since President Benigno Aquino III took office in 2010 after winning election on an anti-corruption and anti-poverty platform.

Aquino's predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, is in hospital detention on criminal charges and her appointee as Supreme Court chief justice, Renato Corona, was impeached after he was found allegedly hiding much of his assets.

Abigail Valte, a presidential spokeswoman, said the filing of the charges against the senators was "a step forward in the determination of the truth, which will be the basis for exacting accountability under our justice system."

The government ombudsman, who prosecutes state officials and employees accused of wrongdoing, filed the charges a year after the scam involving the Philippine Development Assistance Fund was exposed.

The 90-year-old Enrile was accused of receiving $3.94 million in kickbacks out of $7.9 million from project funds for lawmakers called the Philippine Development Assistance Fund. Enrile was the longtime defense secretary of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos before he broke away from the strongman in 1986.

Estrada, a son of ousted President Joseph Estrada, allegedly received $4.2 million out of  $6.4 million. Revilla allegedly got$5.1 million out of $11.9 million.

Investigators of the ombudsman said in a report in April that Enrile, Estrada and Revilla adopted a "common scheme" under which each allegedly "repeatedly received sums of money from Napoles for endorsing her (nongovernment organizations) to implement the projects" funded from the senators' development funds.

It said that Napoles, the main conduit of the funds, made advances of the kickbacks from her own pocket and paid the balance after the Budget Department released the funds to non-existing organizations.

Napoles has been in custody since last year on a separate charge of illegally detaining a former aide who has turned state witness in the case. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Philippine media reports of her family's lavish lifestyle, including the alleged ownership of elegant houses and condominiums here and abroad, have angered many in a country where nearly a third of the 97 million people live on a little over a dollar a day and about a tenth have left the country in search of jobs and better opportunities abroad.

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LittleEarl_01 wrote:
And this is news? The corrupt Philippine officials can only be surpsssed by our State and C&C officials.
on June 6,2014 | 06:58AM
localguy wrote:
Where do you think they learned their skill from?
on June 6,2014 | 07:32AM
HanabataDays wrote:
Oh, I suspect it might've been the other way around. Although there's no way Ferdie should've been able to find asylum on Round Top like he did.
on June 6,2014 | 07:44AM
HD36 wrote:
No wonder Mizuno goes there so often.
on June 6,2014 | 05:06PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Nestor Garcia and Romy Cachola would fit right in with this crowd.
on June 6,2014 | 07:00AM
localguy wrote:
Exactly. Leaders of the pack.
on June 6,2014 | 07:32AM
HOSSANA wrote:
Even though I'm laughing, in all seriousness, you are so right. The irony is that Cachola is running for re-election and has no one opposing him. Talk about more graft, corruption, and a lack of integrity among our public officials and Cachola getting reelected will only reinforce his corrupt ways. And one wonders why people don't vote....idiots like Cachola running for office so who wants to vote esp. when there is no opposition and i can see Cachola laughing right now....
on June 6,2014 | 10:31AM
loquaciousone wrote:
And don't forget brownie of the year Rida Cabanilla. We can match their three of a kind with our own.
on June 6,2014 | 11:28AM
nitpikker wrote:
doesnt napoles remind you of cabanilla?
on June 6,2014 | 07:14AM
AhiPoke wrote:
The only difference between these guys and our American politicians is, they got caught. Why/how else would our politicans spend multiple times more money than their office pays and then leave office much wealthier than they went in?
on June 6,2014 | 07:16AM
ready2go wrote:
Stealing from the poor? Sickening.
on June 6,2014 | 07:39AM
rayhawaii wrote:
The few ruin it for the many.
on June 6,2014 | 11:11AM
cojef wrote:
Do you mean the few crooked who get caught, ruin it for the rest of crooked politicians? Yes?
on June 6,2014 | 11:35AM
serious wrote:
cojef--correct--I read between the lines also!!!
on June 6,2014 | 06:20PM
islandsun wrote:
Send those corrupt Filipinos to Oahu they will fit right in with our clowns.
on June 6,2014 | 12:15PM
false wrote:
Better yet, send Rita Cabanilla, Nestor Garcia, Romulo Romy Cachola back to the Philippines where they'll fit right in with the crooks. Ay sous, bring back Ferdinand.
on June 6,2014 | 03:57PM
HD36 wrote:
John Mizuno is already there.
on June 6,2014 | 05:06PM
hikine wrote:
Money corrupts and money controls the people. Nothing new in the Philippines. They've always been corrupted since the dawn of time. The people don't speak up because the corrupt people have money to pay the judges and just gets a slap in the wrist! Where else but in the Philippines where a person can run for office while she's in jail for stealing from the people?!
on June 6,2014 | 11:30PM
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