Jinggoy Estrada rests bail bid from plunder with CCTV footage
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Wednesday filed his formal offer of evidence to conclude his bail bid from plunder over the “pork barrel” scam.
His last evidence before the court is the result of the Senate review of the closed circuit television (CCTV) footage prepared by the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms on the presence in the Senate of Ruby Tuason, who has claimed to have delivered millions of kickbacks in Estrada’s office.
The CCTV review was duly signed by Senate sergeant-at-arms retired Major Gen. Jose Balajadia Jr.
According to the results of the CCTV review, a lady that resembles Tuason is seen on the ground floor, fifth and sixth floor of the Senate building in 2008. Estrada’s office is located on the sixth floor.
Jemma Saccuan, section chief of the Senate Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms, had testified as a defense witness before the court fifth division that Tuason was not seen carrying any duffel bags to Estrada’s office.
Also, of the 12 days Tuason was seen in the Senate, the CCTV footage did not show her with Estrada, Saccuan added.
Tuason has claimed to have delivered millions of kickbacks contained in duffel bags for Estrada as part of his loot in the alleged scam.
The social secretary of Jinggoy’s father former President Joseph Estrada, Tuason had admitted before a Senate hearing that she delivered bags of kickbacks to the Senate office of Estrada.
The senator is detained for plunder charges over the alleged diversion of his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks through accused mastermind Janet Lim Napoles’ bogus foundations.
She also admitted before the Sandiganbayan that she served as Estrada’s agent in 2004 and 2008 and received commissions worth 5 and 10 percent of Estrada’s pork barrel projects, respectively.
Tuason has received immunity from suit after surrendering P40 million of her alleged loot to the government.
Malampaya fund scam
In the formal offer, Estrada submitted to the court the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) report dated October 2013 on Tuason’s alleged involvement in the Malampaya fund scam.
According to the NBI report on its preliminary investigation, Tuason allegedly received P242.775 million in kickbacks from Napoles for a still unknown recipient.
Estrada had accused Tuason of being the mastermind in the alleged scam. In 2009, at least P900 million, originally from the royalties of the Palawan natural gas field meant as aid for victims of Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng,” were allegedly converted into ghost projects for kickbacks.
While Tuason was granted immunity in the pork barrel scam, she has yet to be off the hook in the alleged Malampaya fund scam.
Napoles had tagged Tuason as showing her a list of government funds amounting to P25 billion, and recommending the P900-million Malampaya fund that would be coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform.
Tuason is part of the Malampaya fund scam complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman charging plunder against Napoles, former President Gloria Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya and his Undersecretary Rafael Nieto, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, DAR finance officer Teresita Panlilio, and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos.
Arroyo was implicated by virtue of an executive order she issued authorizing the release of the said energy funds into aid for storm victims.
The Malampaya funds as storm aid were allegedly pillaged by using fake beneficiaries and forging signatures, much like the scheme in the pork barrel scam. The bogus foundations used in implementing the said funds were allegedly controlled by Napoles.
In her sworn affidavit, Tuason had admitted that the Malampaya funds were delivered to her house and that her brother Remy, who had a contact in Malacañang, had delivered these to an unknown recipient.
Luy’s hard drive
Estrada had also submitted as evidence principal whistle-blower Benhur Luy’s testimony that he had access to the hard drive which supposedly contained the files detailing lawmakers’ kickbacks. Luy is Napoles’ entrusted finance officer.
Estrada claimed the prosecution tried to suppress the fact that Luy had access to the drive even while the investigation was being conducted by the NBI. Estrada alleged that Luy may have tampered with or modified the files.
The detained senator also submitted as evidence the Anti-Money and Laundering Council (AMLC) report which found the existence of Tuason’s 80 bank accounts, which he claimed are used in committing plunder in the purported misuse of PDAF in the scam.
The AMLC had also uncovered Estrada’s unexplained increase in wealth in bank deposits compared to his declared assets. The report bared Estrada’s alleged use of conduits Francis Yengko and Juan Ng to deposit millions of deposits on his account, at around the same time Luy recorded the receipt of kickbacks for Estrada in his ledger.
In what is perhaps the closest link between Estrada and Napoles, the AMLC report showed that around P10 million was debited in the account of Napoles foundation Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI) for a cashier’s check issued for Ng on April 13, 2010.
Ng then deposited the same check on April 15, 2010, in his Chinabank account. On the same day, Ng’s Chinabank account incurred a debit of P10 million for a check payable to cash. This same check was issued for the PBCom account under Estrada’s name.
Estrada’s presentation of a lone defense witness concludes the bail hearing. The court is then expected to make a decision in denying or granting Estrada’s bail after the summation of evidence before the court.
“Whereas, accused Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada respectfully prays that the foregoing exhibits be admitted in support of his motion for bail dated June 23, 2014 and his urgent motion to fix bail dated December 2, 2014,” Estrada’s formal offer of evidence read.
While Estrada is in detention, coaccused Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has been granted bail from plunder by the Supreme Court because of his stature and frail health. Meanwhile, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. has been denied bail by the Sandiganbayan.
Napoles has also been denied bail as she serves a life sentence after being convicted for the separate serious illegal detention case filed by Luy.
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