The efforts of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to probe Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile for several alleged crimes seem to be paying off.
Santiago not only lambasted Enrile in her privilege speech before the Senate last Wednesday, she also formally wrote a letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, requesting her office to conduct an investigation on Enrile for a plethora of crimes including being the mastermind for the P10-billion pork barrel scam, deaths and disappearances of people during the martial law, gambling, illegal logging, and smuggling. The senator also attached a copy of her privilege speech as reference along with the letter.
De Lima confirmed receipt of the letter and mentioned that she was not able to listen to the senator’s speech so she would need to review it first.
Nevertheless, she said that, “off hand,” it is possible for the DOJ to probe the allegations regarding online gambling at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), illegal logging, and smuggling against Enrile.
She also revealed that the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo had initiated investigations regarding the alleged online gambling at CEZA, saying Robredo even sought her legal opinion on the matter.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) had earlier undertaken operations against the operation but the respondents were able to get a temporary restraining order (TRO). Afterwards, they filed counter-charges against the law enforcers.
The online gamblers from CEZA still hold the TRO but De Lima insisted that this should only be valid within CEZA or in the province of Cagayan and not elsewhere.
She added that she is set to review her legal opinion on the matter once again, but the investigations are still on the way. The justice secretary added that she is waiting for the Office of the Solicitor General to provide her with a status report regarding the issue.
She also mentioned that the issue about the TRO’s validity has already been taken to court; although she is not sure yet whether it is already with the Supreme Court or still with the Court of Appeals.
Santiago mentioned in her speech that Enrile committed many martial law offenses, including the disappearance and possible deaths of almost 4,000 people.
She quoted the rebel Communist Party of the Philippines who called Enrile as the late President Ferdinand Marcos’s hatchet man.
Regarding the alleged martial law offenses of Enrile, De Lima has yet to decide on how to proceed since the alleged crimes happened a long time ago.
She admitted that the chances of uncovering the truth on martial law crimes is slim.