Legal eagles lead defense teams of Enrile, Estrada
The trial of the pork barrel scam cases at the Sandiganbayan has become a reunion of sorts for Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and his lead counsel, Estelito Mendoza, 84. Both men used to be peers in the Marcos Cabinet, with Enrile as Marcos’ longtime defense minister, and Mendoza as Marcos’ justice secretary in the last two years of his regime.
The two graduates of the University of the Philippines and Harvard University are considered the best and the brightest of their generation. Both also share a fondness for the tablet: Enrile plays the computer game “Bejeweled” on his iPad mini in the Session Hall, while Mendoza, who is hard of hearing, uses the device to keep up with the discussion. His staff types the ongoing conversation on his tablet during meetings.
Enrile’s coaccused in the case, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada has lawyer Jose Flaminiano defending him.
Flaminiano, 84, was also a defense counsel for former President Joseph Estrada in his impeachment trial in 2000, as well as in criminal proceedings in the Sandiganbayan.
Former Chief Justice Renato Corona’s lawyer in his 2012 impeachment trial, Joel Bodegon, now serves as legal counsel for Sen. Bong Revilla.
Enrile’s law firm
Bodegon was the lawyer of TV host Willie Revillame when the latter filed an P11.5-million damage suit against ABS-CBN in 2010.
Except for Mendoza, all of Enrile’s lawyers, including that of his chief of staff Jose Antonio Evangelista, belong to the senator’s law firm, Pecabar, including one of his partners, Eleazar B. Reyes.
Enrile’s former chief of staff, Jessica Lucila Reyes, meanwhile, tapped lawyer Anacleto M. Diaz and his partners as her counsel. Reyes resigned in January 2013.
Mendoza shepherded former President Estrada’s defense in his plunder trial at the Sandiganbayan from 2001 to 2007, which ended in the conviction of now Manila Mayor Estrada, and the acquittal of all his coaccused, including his son Jinggoy.
Same legal defense
Curiously, Mendoza’s defense of Enrile sounds similar to his legal arguments for former client Estrada. The lawyer said there was no evidence that both Enrile and Estrada had received kickbacks from businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and the “jueteng” lords, respectively.
Mendoza also lawyered for former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in graft charges arising from the anomalous multimillion-dollar National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corp. in 2007.
A high-ranking government official during the Marcos administration, Mendoza served as justice undersecretary from 1971 to 1972; solicitor general from 1972 to 1986; secretary of justice from 1984 to 1986; Pampanga governor from 1980 to 1986, and member of the National Assembly from 1978 to 1980, and from 1984 to 1985.
Mendoza also rendered legal service to Philippine Airlines.
Flaminiano served as state prosecutor of the Department of Justice and city prosecutor in Manila and Pasay City before returning to private practice in 1987. He was one of former President Arroyo’s lawyers in the graft case involving the controversial NBN broadband deal.
According to whistle-blower and state witness Marina Sula, Flaminiano was also the lawyer of Napoles in a case filed by the military against her and her relatives in 2002, for her failure to deliver the Kevlar helmets worth P3.8 million that the Philippine Marines had ordered. Napoles was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan in 2010 for lack of evidence, Sula said.
Bodegon is the managing partner of the Bodegon, Estorninos, Guerzon, Borje and Gozos Law Offices.
Born on Aug. 18, 1948, in Donsol, Sorsogon province, Bodegon obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines in 1974 and was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1975. He is a member of the Legal Management Council of the Philippines, the Sigma Rho Fraternity, the Sigma Rho Council, the Telecommunications and Broadcast Attorneys of the Philippines, and Alabang 515 Club Inc. Compiled by Rafael L. Antonio, Marielle Medina and Kate Pedroso, Inquirer Research.
Sources: Inquirer Archives, official website of Flaminiano Arroyo and Dueñas, official website of Bodegon Estorninos Guerzon Borje and Gozos Law Offices, official website of the Office of the Solicitor General, and official website of the Department of Justice
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