Prosecution says Sandiganbayan 'seriously erred' in Jinggoy release

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2017 03:29 PM

MANILA- The Sandiganbayan "seriously erred" in allowing former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to post bail as he faced trial for plunder, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has said. 

In a motion for reconsideration filed to counter the bail grant, prosecutors told the Sandiganbayan Special 5th Division that it had overlooked evidence proving that the former lawmaker was among conspirators in the allegedly anomalous release of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) 

The former senator is accused of pocketing P183 million in kickbacks from fake projects funded by his PDAF, allegedly with help from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged scam mastermind.

He was released on a P1-million bail on Sept. 15 after some three years of detention. 

“The Honorable Court seriously erred when it failed to consider the plethora of evidence showing the existence of conspiracy between and among the accused, and instead, insisting dearth of evidence showing accused Estrada as the main plunderer,” the prosecution said in its motion.

It reminded the court that in its previous decision after the bail hearings, it said that “Senator Estrada is, as prosecution evidence would strongly show, at the apex of the PDAF scam.”

The Special 5th Division had noted in its bail decision the Supreme Court's acquittal of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove who the main plunderer was in her case.

“Let it be stressed that the text of the Plunder Law does not expressly require the prosecution to allege or identify or even prove the so-called “main plunderer” among the conspirators in the crime of plunder,” the prosecution said.

The prosecution also reiterated that plunder is a collective action and that there was conspiracy among Estrada and his co-accused Napoles, Pauline Labayen, and John Raymund De Asis. 

“It is grievously wrong for the majority members of the Special Division to entertain the idea that the elaborate scheme was not accused Estrada’s wrongdoing and that it was accused Napoles’ handiwork,” the prosecution said.

The prosecution also emphasized that there is no basis for granting bail to Estrada upon his argument that he is not a flight risk. 

“Even on the assumption that it should be taken into account in bail application, accused Senator Estrada never presented any evidence to substantiate his claim that he is indeed not a flight risk,” the prosecution said.

The special division was created after the regular 3-person court composed of Chairperson Rafael Lagos, and Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Reynaldo Cruz, failed to reach a unanimous decision.

In the 5-person special division, Arcega, Cruz and Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna outnumbered Lagos and Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeces.