The Sandiganbayan finished on Friday the pre-trial proceedings for the 15 counts of graft charges against former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile over his alleged role in the pork barrel fund scam.
The Third Division thus scheduled the initial trial date on March 19.
A pre-trial is where both parties mark their respective evidence, present their list of witnesses, and stipulate on issues that help expedite the hearing.
The Sandiganbayan earlier set the start of trial for the plunder case on February 19, some five years after Ombudsman prosecutors indicted Enrile.
The co-accused of Enrile in the plunder and graft charges include his detained former chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, and convicted plunderer and alleged scheme mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Enrile was accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth worth P172.8 million when he channeled P345 million of his Priority Development Assistance Funds, or pork barrel, to the fake Napoles-led foundations from 2004 to 2010.
The case has been delayed due to Enrile’s bill of particulars, or a motion that can enable an accused to properly plead and prepare for trial, which the Supreme Court only upheld on April 12, 2016.
The Sandiganbayan First Division convicted Napoles for her misuse of public funds, while her co-accused former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. was acquitted for the prosecution’s failure to prove he amassed ill-gotten wealth.
Both Enrile and Revilla are seeking running in the senatorial elections in May.