Estrada urges SC to stop Ombudsman from pursuing his plunder case
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to stop the Office of the Ombudsman from pursuing the plunder case filed against him in connection with the kickbacks he allegedly received from the pork barrel fund scam.
In a 29-page petition for certiorari, Estrada also urged the high court to nullify the Ombudsman’s findings, claiming his right to due process has been violated.
The Ombudsman last April 1 approved the filing of plunder and graft charges against Estrada and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, as well as alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles before the Sandiganbayan.
Revilla allegedly received kickbacks amounting to P224.5 million, Juan Ponce Enrile with P172.8 million kickbacks and Estrada with P183.79 million.
But Estrada, in his petition before the Supreme Court, said the Ombudsman’s decision “grievously ignored, trampled upon and violated” his Constitutional rights to due process when it first denied his request and then later on filed charges against him using those affidavits which he added were “not disclosed to him.”
Estrada said the finding of probable cause against him was “premised on evidence not disclosed to him.”
Among the copies of affidavits, counter-affidavits and other filings that Estrada asked the Ombudsman to furnish him were the affidavits of Ruby Tuason and former Technology Resource Center chief Dennis Cunanan, the counter-affidavits of National Livelihood Development Corporation President Gondelina Amata and Department of Budget and Management Undersecretary for Operations Mario Relampagos, the consolidated reply of the National Bureau of Investigation, as well as the affidavits, counter-affidavits, pleadings and filings of the other respondents in the pork barrel scam case and or additional witnesses for the government.
“In denying Sen. Estrada notice of and access to the papers and filings he requested, the Office of the Ombudsman not only violated the Constitution and pertinent laws and rules, but also acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction,” the petition read.
“The act of the Ombudsman is not just a procedural misstep but is tantamount to an absolute refusal to perform a positive duty imposed by law and constitutes grave abuse of discretion,” the petition said.
The lawmaker further explained that the Ombudsman’s decision is also a violation of its own Rules of Procedure, which he said expressly and unequivocally grant any person charged before it the right to access to records of the preliminary investigation.
He added that there is also a Supreme Court ruling upholding the right of the person under investigation by the Ombudsman to be furnished not only the evidence presented by the complainant, but likewise, those presented by co-respondents that are material to the charges against that person.
Earlier, Revilla also asked the High Court to stop the preliminary investigation conducted by the Ombudsman on the plunder and other charges filed against him in connection with the same case by issuing a temporary restraining order.
But the High Court did not issue an injunction and instead ordered the Ombudsman last month to file its comment on Revilla’s petition before it will come up with its ruling on the TRO petition.
Revilla’s chief of staff and co-respondent Richard Cambe also asked the high court to issue an injunction against the Ombudsman as he insisted on his innocence saying he has nothing to do with the scam and that his signatures that appear in the PDAF documents had been forged.
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