Estrada suspension stays

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Friday, August 29, 2014

MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan fifth division upheld the 90-day suspension of detained Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada on Friday for his plunder case related to the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

In a resolution, the court junked Estrada's motion for reconsideration against his suspension order for lack of merit.

"Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, Senator Estrada's motion for reconsideration (Re: Minute dated 17 July 2014), dated August 1, 2014 is hereby denied for lack of merit," the resolution stated.

The court said the Anti-Plunder Law empowers the anti-graft court to suspend the respondent upon the filing of valid information.

Estrada failed to present new arguments to warrant the reversal of the assailed resolution.

In his motion for reconsideration, the lawmaker said the preventive suspension was an administrative measure that must be imposed in an administrative proceeding by the Senate and the anti-graft court has no jurisdiction on it.

Estrada, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, faces plunder and multiple cases of graft for allegedly pocketing P183 million in commission and kickbacks after channeling his PDAF allotment to bogus non-government organization of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged pork scam mastermind.

Last week, the Sandiganbayan third division also upheld the 90-day suspension it imposed on Estrada’s co-accused, detained Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.

On Tuesday, Estrada's chief legal counsel Jose Flaminiano has asked the fifth division to disqualify Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano from being part of the government prosecution team, citing that his appearance is not permitted under Article 7, Section 13 of the Constitution, which bars Cabinet officials and their undersecretaries from holding another office or employment during their tenure.

In addition, the defense said Justiniano's continued appearance as a member of the prosecution team would be a violation of the Civil Service Law.

"Under the Civil Service Law, no person in the non-career service shall perform the duties properly belonging to any position in the career service," the senator's legal counsel argued. (Sunnex)

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