Son appeals for humanitarian consideration
MANILA — The Supreme Court has affirmed the Office of the Ombudsman’s decision to subpoena the bank accounts of former President Joseph Estrada and his alleged mistresses.
In a resolution dated March 29, 2022 but released only on Thursday, the high court junked the legal challenge posed by Allied Banking Corporation, now Philippine National Bank, which questioned the Ombudsman’s authority to summon the records.
The Supreme Court ruled “the Ombudsman has the authority to inquire into bank deposits of public officials and employees under investigation,” citing its powers under The Ombudsman Act of 1989 (RA 6770.)
Among the authority granted to the Ombudsman are the power to issue subpoenas and to examine and access bank accounts and records.
The June 27, 2001 case of Marquez vs. Desierto limited this power to pending litigations.
But the high court said at the time the Ombudsman issued the subpoena duces tecum on February 8, 2001, the Marquez ruling was not yet in effect.
The subpoena, issued by the Ombudsman in February 2001, covered the accounts under the names of Estrada and Jose Velarde, the fictitious name he used in maintaining a bank account.
Also covered were bank accounts of his mistresses Laarni Enriquez, Guia Gomez and Joy Melendrez, former lover Peachy Osorio, as well as alleged mistress Rowena Lopez.
Another person, identified as Kevin or Kelvin Garcia, was also included.
The probe was triggered by several complaints filed against Estrada after he stepped down from office in January 2001 after a peaceful EDSA revolt.
The Jose Velarde account, which contained P3.2 billion, was among the bases for Estrada’s subsequent plunder conviction in September 2007 but then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo granted him executive clemency.
The Supreme Court noted that despite Estrada’s executive clemency and restoration of civil and political rights, the Ombudsman's investigation is still active.
The high court also faulted Allied Banking for resorting to a wrong remedy.
Instead of filing a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court questioning the Ombudsman’s grave abuse of discretion, it opted to file the same petition before the Court of Appeals.
“[T]he CA's jurisdiction is limited to review of orders, directives and decisions of the 0MB in administrative disciplinary cases only. Petitioner should have filed the petition with the Supreme Court following the established doctrine that it is the Supreme Court that has jurisdiction over orders, directives, and decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in criminal or non-administrative matters,” SC said.
SON JV APPEALS FOR CONSIDERATION
In a message to ABS-CBN News, Estrada’s son, Senator JV Ejercito, appealed for consideration for his father.
“My father is 85, not really that strong anymore. This came at a very wrong time given his present situation,” he said.
Ejercito said the cases against his father are “really more political and a power grab no less.”
“After he stepped down Arroyo administration reviewed and investigated all contracts and agreements signed by him and found nothing disadvantageous or onerous. No member of his cabinet, has been involved in any scandals or scams,” he said.
“I am appealing for humanitarian reasons because I myself can’t see him anytime. There are good and bad days given his health situation.
This I appeal to you people. You also have parents. Sana lubayan na siya he has suffered enough,” he added.