Jinggoy appeals denial of bid to drop graft raps
Detained former Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada has appealed to the Sandiganbayan to dismiss his “redundant” graft charges over the alleged pork barrel scam.
Estrada filed his motion for reconsideration in the antigraft court fifth division which denied his motion to dismiss his graft cases, insisting that his 11 counts of graft should be “absorbed” into his plunder charge.
In its resolution dated July 14, the court said Estrada’s motion to dismiss the graft cases for being absorbed or redundant in the plunder charge lacked merit.
While Estrada cited the Rules on Criminal Procedure that the court could dismiss an offense if a mistake was committed in the filing of information, Estrada mentioned an entirely different reason for the court to dismiss the case, the court said.
“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 son of former President Joseph Estrada is accused of dealing with accused scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to earn kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
In his motion for reconsideration, Estrada maintained that the graft indictments were mere “ingredients” of the plunder charge and should therefore not be considered separate predicate offenses.
He cited the disbursement vouchers which are subject of the graft cases, insisting that these vouchers were “offshoots” of the various PDAF releases covered by the special allotment release orders which were subjects of the plunder case.
Estrada also said the legislative history of the plunder law or Republic Act No. 7080 shows that Congress intended for the graft offenses to be part of plunder and not to be tried separately.
“The absorption of crimes which are either mere ingredients of another crime or done in furtherance of the latter is hardly a new doctrine,” Estrada said in his motion through his lawyers.
Estrada also refuted the court’s claim that the graft indictment should not be absorbed under plunder because the issues among the cases were different.
The court said it did not make sense to lump together the plunder and graft cases because the cases covered different periods and issues.
“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.
Estrada said this reasoning ran counter to jurisprudence that a crime may be absorbed by another crime despite the dissimilarity and distinctiveness.
In fact, the plunder and graft information shared similarities to show relationships among the charges, Estrada said.
For one, both plunder and graft information shared the allegation that Estrada and his deputy chief of staff Pauline Labayen received kickbacks from his PDAF, he said.
Estrada said the court’s claim that the graft offense covered a different period from plunder did not matter because there was no ruling requiring the commission of ingredient crimes to be simultaneous with the period of the absorbing crime.
The court in its resolution said the 11 counts of graft could not be absorbed into the plunder charge because the latter covered the period 2004 to 2012 while the graft cases covered 2008 to 2010.
“What is important for purposes of the application of the principle of absorption of crimes is the identity of the overt or criminal acts involved,” Estrada said.
Estrada also said the court had misread the Rules of Court when it said Estrada’s motion to dismiss could not yet be granted because there must first be a finding of a mistake in the filing of information.
While the court said trial must first be held before Estrada could insist on dismissing the charge for a mistake in information, he said the Rules of Court also allowed for a hearing of a motion for him to present evidence.
Estrada insisted that the documents attached to his motion to dismiss were sufficient to prove that the graft indictment should be absorbed in the plunder information.
“The prosecution’s mistake, or rather, the prosecution’s mischief and intentional act of persecution—has been adequately shown and is enough to warrant the dismissal of the informations in these consolidated graft cases,” Estrada said.
“As the graft indictments have no separate or independent existence, being mere ingredients of and absorbed by the charge of plunder … the informations in these consolidated graft cases do not charge an offense as against Sen. Estrada,” he added.
Besides being accused of plunder for receiving P183 million in kickbacks, Estrada is accused of violating Section 3(e) of the antigraft 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 nonexistent.
He has been denied bail and remains in police custody with coaccused Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. Another accused, the elderly Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, has been allowed by the Supreme Court to post bail for humanitarian considerations./rga
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