SC asked to order transfer of Jinggoy Estrada to Camp Bagong Diwa
MANILA, Philippines–The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to order the transfer of Senator Jinggoy Estrada from the Philippine National Police-Custodial Center to the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
In a 28-page petition, the Ombudsman, through Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang, said the Sandiganbayan fifth division gravely abused its discretion in denying their petition for Estrada’s detention transfer.
The petition said the antigraft court’s ruling giving imprimatur to “the continued detention of private respondent in the PNP Custodial Center can only be interpreted as a capricious and whimsical exercise of judicial discretion amounting to lack and/or excess of jurisdiction.”
Carandang said the Sandiganbayan’s refusal to take heed of the transfer request “equates to a refusal to perform an obligation under the law.”
Estrada is facing a case for plunder and 11 counts of graft in the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division for alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Aside from Estrada, facing separate charges of plunder and several counts of graft are Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile.
In its order denying the Ombudsman’s request, the antigraft court said Estrada is a high-risk detainee even if there was no actual threat to his life.
“In ruling that the safety of private respondent Estrada cannot be guaranteed once he is transferred to the detention facility of the BJMP in Camp Bagong Diwa, public respondent capriciously and completely based its conclusion on pure guesswork, speculation and surmises,” Carandang said.
Carandang said the Sandiganbayan should have applied he provisions of Republic Act No. 6975 which clearly mandates where prisoners should be detained.
“There can be no doubt regarding statute’s decree. The custody and safekeeping of persons awaiting trial to be in district, city and municipal jails established and maintained for that specific purpose. And it is the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Manageent and Penology) that shall exercise supervision and control over them.”
Furthermore, Carandang said under Section 61 of the said law, the BJMP has supervision and control over city and municipal jails.
Thus, as a detainee, Carandang said Estrada should be detained in a district, city or municipal jail under the supervision and control of the BJMP.
He further pointed out that the PNP Custodial Center does not qualify as a jail because its establishment as a detention is not provided by law.
“Time and again, reports expose us to the reality of detention prisoners suffering abuse at the hands of their companions and of those expected to provide them protection. Time and again, these detainees endure what money or influence will likely spare them from. For in the Philippine perspective, the supposedly high-profile, high-risk detainee is actually the safest and most secure,” the Ombudsman said.
“In the case at bar, private respondent’s classification as a ‘high-risk’ detainee, requiring exceptional attention to his ‘security and safety’ although profusely alleged, is nonetheless scarcely established,” the petition read.
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