The DOJ announced that it would file a plunder complaint based on the so-called P10 billion pork barrel scam exposed by former staff members of Janet Lim-Napoles, against three to five senators, a good number of congressmen, Janet Lim-Napoles, et al.
Since much of news reporting today is in the vernacular (Filipino), i thought i’d set out the following, for accuracy’s sake:
Plunder has been translated as “pandarambong”. Graft and corruption has been translated before as “pangungulimbat”, or if it’s petty or small amounts, “pangungupit”. Although “pangungupit” could also mean qualified theft.
What would be filed today is a complaint for plunder. In Filipino, complaint could be translated into “reklamo” . Or maybe even “demanda”. So, the act of filing could be translated into: “Sasampahan ng reklamo para sa pandarambong … etc”. Some editors translate it into “Kakasuhan ng plunder…etc.”.
i’m no professional linguist, but just based on experience, when you say a case has been filed against Juan Doe, it usually means an Information or formal charge had already been lodged in the Sandiganbayan, which comes only after preliminary investigation.
After the complaint is filed, it goes thru a preliminary investigation. How long does it take before the preliminary investigation is resolved? Because the public has become cynical about the judicial system, here are supposedly the periods provided by the revised rules of criminal procedure:
1) the investigating officer (in this case, the special prosecutor or Ombudsman investigator) has ten days to either dismiss the complaint or find ground to issue a subpoena to the respondents.
2) upon receipt of the subpoena, respondents have ten days to file their counter-affidavits. The counter-affidavit must be sworn to before the investigating officer.
3) if the respondent does not file a counter-affidavit within this ten-day period, the investigating officer shall resolve the complaint based solely on the evidence of the complainant.
(If a respondent has defenses but did not file a counter-affidavit, kawawa naman sya because only the evidence of the complainant was heard, so if you have good defenses, it is better to file a counter-affidavit).
4) within ten days (this is already the third 10-day period), the investigating officer may conduct a hearing in order to propound clarificatory questions of the complainant/ respondents/ witnesses.
5) this hearing by the investigating office shall be terminated within five days.
6) Within ten days, the investigating officer should resolve the preliminary investigation.
(in real life, hwag ka magalit sa akin, prosecutors in ordinary cases are overburdened with hundreds and hundreds of cases on preliminary investigation not to mention having to attend hearings almost on a daily basis, so it takes them a lot more than ten days. Some take 90 days or even a year if there are no follow-ups).
7) After the 10-day period abovestated, the investigating officer has five days to forward the resolution and the records to the Ombudsman or deputy.
8) After the 5-day period above, the Ombudsman has ten days to resolve. If there is a finding of a prima facie case, the Information or formal charge is then filed in court, in this case the Sandiganbayan.
This is the only time you could properly say that a case has been filed. The respondents now become the accused. People of the Philippines versus _______, _______, and John Does. 9)The court has ten days to issue the warrant of arrest, or, if the court is not satisfied that there is a prima facie case, shall ask the prosecutor within five days to submit additional evidence and shall resolve the issue within 30 days.
How many 10-day periods did you count? Six, right? How many 5-day periods? Two, right? So, 70 days, but in real life and in ordinary cases, where investigators and prosecutors are overburdened, it could take a year or even more. However in some cases, where there is great public interest and people are vigilant, the investigators, prosecutors, and the court may proceed promptly.
On Nov. 28, 2000, we, together with more than a hundred lawyers, signed the plunder complaint against then incumbent president Joseph Estrada, et al. The complaint was filed with the Ombudsman the next day. In an interview earlier, then Ombudsman Aniano Desierto said Estrada, being a sitting president, could not be charged, because of “presidential immunity”. We went ahead anyway. Estrada was ousted on January 20, 2001. The plunder complaint with supporting evidence was resolved on April 25, 2001 with the issuance of a warrant of arrest.