Estrada asks SC to stop trial at Sandiganbayan

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

MANILA -- Like his co-detainee Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Senator Jinggoy Estrada also asked the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify his plunder and graft cases in connection with the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

In a petition for certiorari, Estrada asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the Sandiganbayan fifth division from hearing the cases filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman.

He also wanted the High Court to revoke the arrest warrant issued against him.

Echoing the arguments laid down in an earlier petition filed last May, Estrada said the Ombudsman violated his right to due process and equal protection when the anti-graft body issued a joint resolution dated March 28, 2014, which found probable cause to indict him for plunder and graft and the joint resolution issued on June 4, 2014 which denied his motion for reconsideration.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada
Senator Jinggoy Estrada (Source: PNP-PIO)

"The continuation of further proceedings against Senator Estrada by the Office of the Ombudsman, which has been ousted of its jurisdiction by virtue of its violation of Senator Estrada's constitutional rights, as well as the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan, will work injustice and cause grave and irreparable injury to him as he will be required to go through the hardship of submitting himself to trial, which would tend to render any judgment in this petition ineffectual," the petition read.

Plunder, a non-bailable offense punishable by life imprisonment, involves the amassing of ill-gotten wealth amounting to at least P50 million.

In Estrada's case, he allegedly pocketed P183 million from his PDAF allocation after endorsing the fake non-government organizations (NGOs) of businesswoman and co-accused Janet Napoles to carry out ghost projects.

But the senator claimed he was only made to believe that the Napoles NGOs were legitimate.

"It's the job of the implementing agencies to determine if the NGOs are bogus or legitimate. I trusted the implementing agencies to do this, to do their mandated job and truly certify that the NGOs are legitimate that they accredit. We are there to determine which NGOs will be taking over. Our job as legislators is purely recommendatory," he said on Monday.

Estrada, who surrendered to authorities on Monday, is staying in a room next to Revilla at the newly renovated Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

His petition for bail will be heard by the Sandiganbayan on Friday. (Sunnex)

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