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Jinggoy seeks dismissal of P183-M plunder case

/ 05:18 AM April 05, 2019

Former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada has asked the Sandiganbayan to dismiss his plunder case, citing a Supreme Court decision that acquitted former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of plunder in 2016.

In his 115-page demurrer to evidence, Estrada said the prosecution failed to prove that he was the mastermind or main plunderer in the case against him.

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A demurrer to evidence formally asks the court to evaluate the evidence presented by the prosecution. A granted demurrer is equivalent to a dismissal of the case.

Estrada, who is seeking a return to the Senate in May’s midterm elections, was charged with plunder for allegedly funneling P183 million of his pork barrel funds to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.

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No main plunderer

In his demurrer, Estrada cited the high court’s decision to acquit Arroyo, now Speaker of the House of Representatives, due to the absence of a main plunderer in the prosecution’s information charge sheet.

Other than Estrada, also named in the plunder case were Napoles, the former senator’s former staff member Pauline Therese Labayen and John Raymund de Asis, a driver-bodyguard of Napoles.

“[C]onsidering that four [people] have been accused of amassing, acquiring and accumulating ill-gotten wealth, it would be improbable that the crime charged was plunder if none of them was alleged to be the main plunderer,” Estrada said.

He also argued that, contrary to the allegations of the prosecution, witnesses had said that his alleged participation started only in 2008.

AMLC report disputed

The prosecution said that he had knowledge of the pork barrel scheme since its inception in 2004 until 2012.

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Estrada also disputed an Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report, which said that dummy accounts under the names Francis Yenko and Juan Ng were used to receive the kickbacks meant for him.

“The AMLC merely relied on the entries in Mr. [Benhur] Luy’s summary of rebates, did not verify the same, and could not determine the underlying transaction for the financial activities tagged,” Estrada said.

Aside from Estrada, former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile also faces plunder and graft charges, while former Sen. Bong Revilla was acquitted of similar charges in December 2018, but was ordered by the Sandiganbayan to return the P124 million in his bank account that the court said was part of the pork barrel funds. —PATRICIA DENISE M. CHIU

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TAGS: dismiss, Jinggoy, Plunder, Sandiganbayan
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