Sandigan won’t merge charges against Jinggoy
THE GRAFT charges against former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in connection with his role in the pork barrel scam may not be “absorbed” into his plunder case, even though they involve the same set of acts, according to the Sandiganbayan.
In a July 14 decision, the antigraft tribunal’s Fifth Division ruled against Estrada’s motion to dismiss the graft charges, saying the separate graft and plunder cases “involve distinct elements and acts, punishable under two different statutes.”
“One crime may have ‘perceived’ similarities with the other, but each remains distinct and separate from the other,” according to the seven-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Rafael Lagos.
The son of former President Joseph Estrada is facing 11 counts of violations of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act on top of a plunder case for his dealings with businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains behind a wide-ranging scam to divert lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to bogus projects.
That section of the law prohibits officials from “causing any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”
Estrada, detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, moved to dismiss the 11 graft charges, arguing that these could not be considered separate crimes from his plunder case, and should be “absorbed” into the latter.
But the antigraft court disagreed.
“The bedrock issue in the plunder case lies on the accused’s ‘unjust enrichment’ and ‘ill-gotten wealth’ arising from the alleged kickbacks, while the Section 3(e) cases rest on the issues of ‘causing undue injury to the government’ and ‘giving unwarranted benefits and advantage to private persons’ through acts of ‘evident bad faith and manifest partiality,’” it said.
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