Palace denies pressuring Sandigan justices on pork scam cases
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday denied reports that it had a hand in the inhibition of three Sandiganbayan justices from the plunder and graft cases against detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada Jr.
“Walang batayan at walang katotohanan ang paratang na ‘yan,” Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. told Palace reporters.
(There is no basis and truth to such accusations.)
Quoting a source, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) reported that Associate Justice Roland Jurado, chair of the antigraft court’s Fifth Division, and Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo and Ma. Theresa Dolores Estoesta withdrew from the controversial case because of “pressure” from the public and “higher authorities.”
In their single-page letter sent to Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, the three justices asked to be excused for “personal reasons.”
The PDI source said the justices have been giving into public pressure to deny Estrada’s petition for bail. He pointed out that there was a strong public perception that all those involved in the controversy should be convicted.
Coloma, on the other hand, said the Sandiganbayan has its own processes when it comes to inhibiting justices and that the main interest of the people is for the case to be resolved and for justice to prevail.
He said the best move would be to wait for the decision of the court.
Estrada was charged with plunder and graft for his alleged involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam. He is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center with fellow accused Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. Meanwhile, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, another accused, is under hospital detention also for plunder.
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