Sandiganbayan grants motion to suspend Jinggoy

By Dharel Placido,

Posted at Jul 18 2014 10:10 AM | Updated as of Jul 19 2014 08:00 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) – The Sandiganbayan has granted the motion of the prosecution panel to suspend Senator Jinggoy Estrada from office.

The anti-graft court's fifth division, chaired by Associate Justice Roland Jurado, granted the prosecution panel's motion to have Estrada suspended from the Senate for 90 days.

Estrada's lawyer, Alexis Abastillas, told ANC in an interview that the senator's camp will appeal the suspension. She said based on the order of the court, the suspension would not take effect yet.

"We just received the order and it says that it is granting the motion for suspension of Senator Jinggoy, but it says there it is not immediately effective because they are saying 'unless a motion for reconsideration is filed by the accused,''' Abastillas said.

Estrada must not be suspended from office because the senator is still questioning the validity of the information filed against him, the lawyer said.

Abastillas noted that Estrada still has two pending petitions for certiorari with the Supreme Court.

She said in the interview that she has not yet told Estrada about the suspension.

But the anti-graft court, in its order, said the granting of the motion will not constitute res judicata, which bars re-litigation of a case that has already been resolved with finality, with respect to pending petitions before the Supreme Court.

"Evidently, the rules of forum shopping do not apply in the insant motion." the anti-graft court said.

"(The) fear of the accused that his constituents will be paralyzed for 90 days when he is preventively suspended, is remote. There will still be 21 other senators of the Republic of the Philippines who can meet as such."

The Ombudsman prosecution panel earlier said under the plunder law (Republic Act No. 7080, as amended), any public officer against whom a criminal prosecution under a valid information for plunder is pending in court shall be suspended from office.

"Jurisprudence sets the period of suspension pendente lite at 90 days," the Ombudsman said in a statement.

Estrada faces one count of plunder and 11 counts of graft for allegedly receiving P183 million in pork barrel kickbacks from 2004 to 2012. He is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

Similar motions to have Senators Ramon Revilla "Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile suspended from the Senate have been filed before the anti-graft court.