Estrada seeks court clearance to hold Senate hearings

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Monday, August 18, 2014

THE camp of detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada has asked the anti-graft court to allow the lawmaker to conduct hearings as chairman of the Senate labor committee.

“Senator Estrada has no intention of shirking from his duty as a senator and as chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development. Neither would he allow himself to be the cause of any delay in enacting the priority bills," stated the motion filed before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division.

Estrada, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center, is facing plunder and multiple graft cases for allegedly pocketing P183 million in kickbacks after channeling his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allotment to bogus non-government organizations of businesswoman Janet Napoles.

The legislator's camp said it is up to the Sandiganbayan to decide the place of the hearings.

“Estrada respectfully prays that the committee be allowed to conduct their hearings at the Camp Crame detention facility or such other place as the honorable court may find suitable and appropriate,” the motion said.

It added that Estrada should be given the chance to conduct committee hearings being an elected senator.

The motion said at least 168 bills are pending before Estrada’s committee, 12 of which have been considered priority measures that need immediate deliberations.

The court slapped on July 17 a 90-day preventive suspension against him but it will only take effect once the justices junk his appeal.

Meanwhile, Napoles asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss the plunder and graft cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against her and recall the arrest warrants issued by the Sandiganbayan.

“With grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction, respondent Ombudsman found probable cause to indict petitioner…for the non-bailable offense of plunder notwithstanding the clear absence of the element of 'amassing ill-gotten wealth for an accused public officer'," the petition read.

She also denied links to the several fake foundations, which were allegedly used as beneficiaries of the PDAF allocation of detained Senators Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.

Napoles, also on trial for the alleged serious illegal detention of whistleblower Benhur Luy, is currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. (John Carlo Cahinhinan/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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