Jinggoy’s pre-trial for plunder, graft deferred anew
The scheduled pre-trial for plunder and graft of detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada was deferred for the fourth time on Monday, a few days after the second anniversary of the pork barrel scam cases.
During the hearing of the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division, the Office of the Special Prosecution informed the court that it was not yet done with the marking of documents.
Prosecutor Ma. Christina Batacan said the panel has yet to obtain documents from the Commission on Audit (COA), some of which need to be obtained from Mindanao.
Fifth Division chair Rolando Jurado denied the prosecution’s request to admit the documents as evidence even though these were unmarked.
With the prosecution’s request for additional time, the court reset the pre-trial on September 12.
To speed up the process, the court issued a subpoena on the documents from COA as well as on the auditors to appear before the court.
In an interview, Estrada’s lawyer Paul Arias lamented the delay in the pretrial proceedings.
“It’s been two years since the filing of the [case] information. We don’t know why as of today they can’t complete their markings,” Arias said, adding that the defense could not proceed with the pre-marking of its counter-evidence without the marking of evidence by the prosecution.
Arias said this was the fourth time the scheduled pre-trial was deferred.
The court set the succeeding preliminary conference for marking of evidence on the graft cases the whole day every Tuesday and on the plunder case every Friday.
During the preliminary conference, the defense and prosecution panel meet to mark the documents that would serve as evidence and counter-evidence as well as list the witnesses which would be presented during trial proper. Preliminary conference is part of the pre-trial.
Estrada is accused of plunder for allegedly receiving P183 million kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds which were allegedly spent in ghost projects for kickbacks through the bogus foundations of accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
He was denied bail and remains in custody with co-accused Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.
Another accused, the elderly Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, was allowed by the Supreme Court to post bail for humanitarian considerations.
Estrada was also accused of 11 counts of graft for violating Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law for allegedly causing injury to government and giving undue preference to the following Napoles’ bogus organizations: Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation.
He has sought dismissal of his graft cases for being redundant in the plunder charge.
The plunder information against the three senators was filed by the Ombudsman prosecutors before the Sandiganbayan on June 6, 2014, marking two years since the cases were docketed before the court.
The graft charges against them were filed on June 9, 2014. JE/rga
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