Jinggoy Estrada wants gov’t lawyer out of his case
MANILA, Philippines–The lawyers of detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday objected to the participation of Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano in their client’s bail hearing in the Sandiganbayan in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Citing the Constitution, Estrada’s defense team said Cabinet secretaries and their deputies were barred from appointment to other government posts during their incumbency.
In their 10-page motion to disqualify, the lawyers said Justiniano’s designation as a prosecutor in Estrada’s case was a violation of the Civil Service Law.
The law, they noted, “prohibits the appointment of a person in the noncareer service from performing duties properly belonging to the career service.”
“The Ombudsman’s act of deputizing Undersecretary Justiniano to act as a prosecutor encroaches on the President’s control over the executive department,” Estrada’s lawyers said.
“Since Undersecretary Justiniano is an undersecretary in the Department of Justice, there is no doubt that he is covered by this constitutional prohibition… Wherefore, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed that (Justiniano) be disqualified to act as a member of the panel of prosecutors…,” they said.
Justiniano rose to prominence when he served as defense counsel of US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith who was accused of raping a Filipino woman in 2005.
A former senior partner at the Sycip, Salazar, Hernandez & Gatmaitan law firm, he also served as a private prosecutor in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona last year.
Justiniano, who was supposed to handle the direct testimony of Director Carmencita Delantar of the Department of Budget and Management on Tuesday, laughed off the objections of Estrada’s lawyers, saying his being a member of the prosecution panel was not a separate government position.
“They refer to double compensation, but I’m just deputized as (a prosecutor). I’m receiving my compensation only from the Department of Justice,” he told reporters.
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