MANILA - Senator Jinggoy Estrada wants the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the Ombudsman's proceedings against him in connection with the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
Estrada’s lawyers claimed that since the Ombudsman’s findings were issued with grave abuse of discretion, its recommendation to file plunder and graft criminal information should be nullified and set aside.
In a 31-page petition before the high court, the lawyers of Estrada said he “was shocked not only at the Office of the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause, which he maintains is without legal and factual basis, but also that such… was premised on evidence not disclosed to him to date.”
His lawyers said Estrada’s constitutional right to due process was trampled upon when the Ombudsman issued its resolution against him back in March even without hearing his side.
He requested, among others, copies of the affidavits of socialite Ruby Tuason and Technology Resource Center Director General Dennis Cunanan, which were used as bases by the Ombudsman to indict him.
The Ombudsman is still resolving the motions for reconsideration filed by the respondents, including Estrada himself. If denied, a criminal information will be filed against Estrada for plunder and graft.
Estrada’s camp said the senator’s right to due process during a preliminary investigation is more than a prerogative, as insisted by the Ombudsman.
“It is an immanent and inalienable right of every man, woman, and child living under a government of laws. It cannot be dispensed with or brushed aside either in time of war or in time of peace,” the lawyers said.
While preliminary investigation is not the trial per se, the high court has time and again said it is a prelude to a trial. Thus, it should still be conducted with the essential requisites of due process, they said.
They said it is an “absurd” idea that the constitutional guarantee of due process will only apply when the case reaches the Sandiganbayan.
“The continuation of further proceedings against Sen. Estrada by the Office of the Ombudsman, which has been ousted of its jurisdiction by virtue of its violation of Sen. Estrada’s constitutional rights, will work injustice and cause grave and irreparable injury to him…,” the lawyers said.
Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. also earlier asked the SC to stop the Ombudsman's proceedings.
The high court was supposed to hold oral arguments on Revilla's case, but decided to order the parties to submit their written comments instead.