Prosecution to Sandigan: Don’t grant bail to Jinggoy Estrada
MANILA, Philippines — The prosecution panel against the accused in the pork barrel scam insisted that Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who is charged with plunder, should not be granted bail by the Sandiganbayan.
In their comment/opposition on Estrada’s motion for bail, the Office of the Special Prosecutor under the Ombudsman cited the Rules of Court, which provides the prosecution an opportunity to prove the accused guilty in a hearing for the bail application.
“It is clear … that Estrada… cannot claim to be entitled to the posting of bail for his provisional liberty. A hearing to determine whether the evidence of guilt is strong is mandatory,” according to the motion, a copy of which was released Tuesday.
In Estrada’s bail petition, it said the “evidence of guilt was absent, and at worst, not strong” and that the senator was not a “flight risk.”
“More importantly, there is no proof that Senator Estrada amassed, accumulated and acquired ill-gotten wealth…” the motion read.
The senator is not a flight risk because Estrada’s “social standing,” particularly as a “movie actor and a celebrity,” the petition further said.
“He is easily recognizable making it impossible for him to depart from any airport or port,” the motion said.
But the prosecution countered that it has the burden of proving during the hearing that the evidence of guilt against the accused was “strong”.
“There being no merit to accused Estrada’s motion for bail, it being filed on the mere assumption that he is not a flight risk and that the evidence of guilt is absent, it is respectfully submitted that the same be denied by the Honorable Court,” the comment/opposition said.
On Monday, the Sandiganbayan fifth division issued the arrest warrant against Estrada and his co-accused after finding probable cause on the plunder charges against them.
The Ombudsman, in indicting the senator, said Estrada amassed P183.795 million in commissions from 2004 to 2012 from the alleged illegal disbursement of his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Estrada faces one count of plunder, a non-bailable offense, and 11 counts of graft.
Also charged were Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, and alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Revilla surrendered Friday to the anti-graft court after it found probable cause on the charges filed against him. He is now detained in Camp Crame.
This is not the first time that Estrada will be detained for plunder. He was jailed with his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, in 2001 but the senator was later acquitted and released.
The Sandiganbayan is hearing the biggest corruption scandal under the current administration — the alleged pillaging of public funds to ghost projects for kickbacks through the bogus foundations of Napoles.
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