Jinggoy Estrada bid to attend canvassing of votes opposed
State prosecutors opposed the request of Senator Jinggoy Estrada to attend the canvassing of votes for president and vice president in the 2016 elections, saying he as a prisoner denied bail cannot perform his duties as senator.
In a comment opposition filed before the anti-graft court Fifth Division, the Office of the Special Prosecutor under the Ombudsman said Estrada cannot demand to resume his duties as senator due to his pending plunder trial over the pork barrel scam.
“Stripped to its bare essentials, the instant motion is basically raising a single issue – whether or not accused Estrada can still discharge his functions as a Senator of the Philippines despite being under detention? The answer is definitely in the negative,” the prosecution said.
It cited court jurisprudence that prohibits detention prisoners from exercising any business and occupation, and from holding public office.
“Accused Estrada’s request cannot and should not be allowed. Indeed, to give him leave to do so would amount to giving him, though undeserved, favor over and above ordinary detainees,” the prosecution said.
The prosecution added that Estrada’s absence in Congress, constitutionally mandated to canvass the presidential and vice presidential election returns, would not be substantial because there are 23 other senators and 288 representatives in the 16th Congress.
The prosecution added that the court has denied Estrada’s similar requests to attend the Mamasapano probe in the Senate, and to conduct committee hearings.
Estrada had also been denied bail from plunder, which gives the court all the more reason to deny his petition for temporary freedom to attend the canvassing, the prosecution said.
In his motion, Estrada had asked the court’s permission to allow him to still fulfill his duties as senator even as he is detained for plunder over the alleged pork barrel scam.
Under the Constitution, both Houses of Congress are tasked of conducting the canvassing of election results for President and Vice President.
“Senator Estrada has no intention of shirking from his duty as a Senator and his Constitutional mandate with respect to the impending election of President and Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said in the motion.
Estrada said he is not seeking temporary liberty from detention but only an opportunity to fulfill his duties as senator.
“It is likewise important to note that Sen. Estrada does not seek temporary liberty from his detention but merely that provision be made to allow him to comply with his legal and Constitutional duties and perform his functions as a public servant,” the motion read.
Estrada is accused of receiving P183 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) through alleged ghost projects using the bogus foundations of accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles
Estrada had been denied bail by the Sandiganbayan after over a year of hearing his bail petition. Due to Estrada’s signatures in pertinent documents endorsing the bogus foundations which implemented his ghost projects, the court even said Estrada is “the apex of the PDAF scam.”
He is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center with colleague Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. Revilla’s bail plea was denied by the Sandiganbayan in Dec. 2014 just months after he surrendered June 2014. IDL