Sandigan junks Jinggoy’s bid to dismiss graft raps
(Updated) The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has denied the motion of former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada to dismiss what he deemed were redundant graft charges filed against him in connection with his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
In his motion, Estrada, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, appealed to the court to dismiss his 11 counts of graft charges because these cannot be considered as separate crimes from his plunder case.
He said that the Ombudsman’s graft indictment should be deemed “absorbed” in his indictment for plunder because the graft offenses sprung from the same offense of plunder.
In a resolution promulgated July 14, the anti-graft court said Estrada’s motion to dismiss the graft raps for being “absorbed” or redundant in the plunder charge lacked merit.
While Estrada cited the Rules on Criminal Procedure that the court can dismiss an offense if a mistake is committed in the filing of information, Estrada mentioned an entirely different reason for the court to dismiss the case, the court said.
The court added that it could not yet determine if there was a mistake in the charges because the trial has yet to start.
“The issue raised by the movant does not deal with any ‘mistake’ covered by the above-quoted rules, such as not charging the proper offense, but on an entirely different ground or reasons,” the court said.
The court noticed that what Estrada intended to do was to quash the informations filed against him but could not do so because he had already been arraigned for the charges.
“Actually, movant seeks to quash the herein informations, but is already barred because he has already been arraigned, and he has no grounds to rely on under the rules,” the court said.
“Wherefore, in light of the foregoing, accused Estrada’s motion to dismiss is denied for lack of merit,” the court said.
The son of former President Joseph Estrada is accused of dealing with accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to earn kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
In his bid to dismiss the graft charges, Estrada said the disbursement vouchers subject of the graft cases were “offshoots” of the releases of PDAF allocations covered by the special allotment release orders which were the subject of the plunder case.
He said the legislative intent of Republic Act 7080 or the plunder law is to treat graft offenses under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as the “constitutive parts” that define plunder.
“Sen. Estrada submits that the indictment in these consolidated graft cases are deemed absorbed by the indictment for plunder and should be dismissed insofar as he is concerned,” his motion said.
The court said the 11 counts of graft could not be absorbed into the plunder charge because the plunder charge covers the period 2004 to 2012 while the graft cases cover the period 2008 to 2010.
“The period covered in the plunder case starts from 2004 to 2012, while Section 3(e) cases start with the year 2008 and ends up to 2010 only. This means there were possible transactions occurring four years earlier and two years later, that were not covered in these Sec 3(e) cases,” the court said.
The court said following these facts of the case, it does not make sense to lump together the graft cases and the plunder information on the claim that the plunder is composed of individual graft indictments.
“Unexplained, it does not appear that the indictment for plunder is ‘comprised of the individual indictments’ in the present cases… Assuming movant’s assertion to be true, still the Court is not convinced that the present cases can be considered or deemed ‘absorbed’ in the separate case of plunder,” the court said.
Besides being accused of plunder for receiving P183 million in kickbacks, Estrada is accused of violating Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law for causing injury to government and giving undue preference to Napoles’ bogus organizations Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation.
Estrada allegedly endorsed the bogus foundations to implement his pork barrel projects which turned out to be non-existent.
He was denied bail and remains in police custody with co-accused Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. Another accused, the elderly Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, was allowed by the Supreme Court to post bail for humanitarian considerations.IDL/rga
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