Sandigan asked to void Jinggoy’s bail
State prosecutors have asked the Sandiganbayan to reconsider its decision to grant bail to former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, assailing the argument that there was sufficient doubt as to whether he was a “main plunderer” in the pork barrel scam.
In a motion for reconsideration, they argued that the antigraft court had ignored the element of conspiracy in considering Estrada’s case in a “sudden turnaround” when the court granted him bail and allowed him to walk free on Sept. 16.
“Suffice it to say that when plunder is a collective act undertaken by more than one accused, there is no main plunderer to speak of. Rather, the conspiring participants are equally deemed plunderers,” read the pleading filed by the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor.
The prosecutors questioned the ruling of the court’s Fifth Division that relied on the same argument used by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, to win an acquittal from the Supreme Court in 2016 on charges that she plundered state lottery funds.
They noted that the court itself found, in an earlier ruling it set aside, that “accused Estrada was at the apex of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam.”
“Yet in the subject resolution, this honorable court taking a cue from the Arroyo doctrine, made a sudden turnaround, ratiocinating that there is an ambiguity or even doubt as to who the main plunderer is in this case,” the prosecutors said.
The Fifth Division, in a 3-2 decision, had granted Estrada’s second pleading, an omnibus motion to post bail on insufficiency of evidence and humanitarian grounds. It, however, denied Estrada’s motion to dismiss the case.
Estrada is accused of plunder and 11 counts of graft for pocketing P183.79 million from his PDAF allocation from 2004 to 2010 in the wide-ranging scheme allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles in collusion with lawmakers.
In his motion, the former senator successfully argued that the prosecution failed to prove that he was the “main plunderer” or mastermind in the pork barrel scheme.
In the resolution, the Sandiganbayan ruled that the evidence of the prosecution led to confusion as to who was the main beneficiary in the entire scheme involving Napoles and the lawmakers, who were accused of funneling their pork barrel allocations to bogus nongovernment organizations controlled by Napoles.
“This allegation only shows that the prosecution acknowledges there was really benefit to accused Napoles. But when it is considered that the evidence on record shows that she had substantial control of the operations after accused Estrada’s endorsement, the inference that accused Estrada is the main plunderer or the mastermind becomes shaky,” the ruling read in part.
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