Jinggoy entitled to acquittal on plunder case, lawyers say

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 04 2019 11:44 PM

Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada guests on DZMM's Ikaw Na Ba Senatorial candidates' interview, February 7, 2019. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - The lawyers of former senator Jinggoy Estrada have filed their demurrer to evidence before the Sandiganbayan 5th Division which challenges the evidence presented by government prosecutors and seeks the acquittal of the former lawmaker accused of pocketing P183 million from the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam. 

It was noted in the demurrer that Estrada was not a participant to the supposed conspiracy to commit plunder nor was the main plunderer in the case, as supposedly required under the Plunder Law.

According to the information filed by the Office of the Ombudsman, plunder was committed in 2004 up to 2012 by Estrada, in conspiracy with Janet Lim Napoles, Pauline Therese Mary Labayen and John Raymund De Asis.

Estrada’s lawyers downplayed the testimony of prosecution witness Ruby Tuason, who supposedly received PDAF as an agent based on the ledger of whistleblower Benhur Luy.

They noted that Tuason is a supposed co-conspirator or accomplice to the crime and must not be accepted as a witness nor her testimony be given weight unless corroborated.

Tuason’s account of deliveries of kickbacks to Estrada at the Senate does not tally with the dates on the ledger of Luy and CCTV footage when the supposed deliveries were made, according to Estrada’s lawyers.

“Accordingly, as the prosecution’s evidence adduced during trial do not amount to proof beyond reasonable doubt, Sen. Estrada is by law entitled to an acquittal and it is this honorable court’s constitutional duty to acquit him,” Estrada’s lawyers Alejandre Duenas II and Aufelene Anne Laxamana said.

It was also stressed in the demurrer that no endorsement letters for the release of PDAF were supposedly signed by Estrada before 2008 and after 2010.

“Thus, if the supposed conspiracy started in 2004 and ended in 2012, and the acts attributed to Sen. Estrada did not cover this entire period, it cannot be said that Sen. Estrada was the one who conceived, much less masterminded, such scheme,” Estrada’s lawyers said.

The demurrer also assailed the inquiry report made by the Anti-Money Laundering Council which allegedly relied heavily on the testimonies of Luy as well as media reports.

“The procedure adopted by the AMLC is not only contrary to the Constitutional presumption of innocence, it violates the required thoroughness and certainty required of government investigations,” Estrada’s lawyers said.

The prosecution is expected to submit its opposition to the demurrer of Estrada before the matter is submitted for resolution by the court.