MANILA -- Lawyer Jose Flaminiano said his client, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, will most likely refuse to enter a plea during his arraignment on Monday.
“I believe he will not enter a plea,” Flaminiano said in an interview with radio dzMM.
The lawyer also explained that there is not much of a difference between pleading “not guilty” and remaining silent, but said: “I think he just wants to declare that he should not have been brought to court.”
Last Friday, the special prosecution panel from the Office of the Ombudsman withdrew its motion amending the plunder charges against Estrada after the Sandiganbayan fifth division warned the court may recall an earlier finding of probable cause.
This would mean that the detention of Estrada would be nullified.
Flamiano considered this a “small victory.”
The amended information would have put emphasis on Estrada’s role in the alleged plundering of the pork barrel. The original information, from which the consequent hearings would revolve, provides that the senators, including Estrada, merely received kickbacks from businesswoman Janet Napoles.
The fifth division of the Sandiganbayan will also likely schedule on Monday the hearings on the motion for bail filed by Estrada.
Bail is not a matter of right for the accused, but this will stall the trial proper.
Estrada’s plunder case is also the first outing of Manila Judge Theresa Gomez-Estoesta as Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan. Her appointment was announced last week by Malacanang.
Flaminiano believes they will get fairness from Estoesta even if she is an Aquino appointee.
“She’s an awardee for judicial excellence… She has reputation for fairness, integrity, and impartiality,” the lawyer noted.