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Ombudsman mulls next move vs Jinggoy’s ‘bail’

MANILA, Philippines —  The Office of the Ombudsman is charting its next move in anticipation of the Sandiganbayan’s possible grant of provisional liberty to former senator Jinggoy Estrada.

In an interview with select reporters, three highly placed sources from the ombudsman”s office admitted they are expecting the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division to grant Estrada’s omnibus motion filed on Sept. 12, 2016, which asked the court to allow him to post bail for his plunder case.

One of the sources said that this early, they are preparing a motion for reconsideration as they anticipate a 3-2 vote in favor of Estrada’s bail.

The source said they are also prepared to go to the Supreme Court should the Sandiganbayan deny their appeal.

The plunder case stemmed from Estrada’s alleged amassing of P183 million worth of kickbacks by allocating portions of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel to bogus foundations allegedly owned by the alleged “pork” scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.

Estrada and Napoles have been in detention since the filing of the case in June 2014.

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Earlier, Estrada’s petition for bail had been denied with finality by the Fifth Division, but in September last year, his camp filed an omnibus motion, which again prayed for bail on the ground of the supposed failure of the prosecution to establish the elements of plunder.

Estrada’s camp also argued that the prosecution failed to identify him in the charge sheet as the “main plunderer” in the case.

Estrada argued that if the alleged P183 million in kickbacks are to be divided among him and his three co-accused, each of their share would only amount to P45.9 million, below the P50-million threshold amount of illegally amassed fund for a crime to be considered as plunder.

Estrada also said his continued detention has caused him “irreparable” loss of right to liberty.

The three ombudsman sources admitted that the grant of Estrada’s bail might have a domino effect on the other PDAF cases pending before the anti-graft court.

The same sources maintained there was no new arguments or evidence raised by Estrada in his omnibus motion other than those he already presented during the hearings of his original petition for bail.

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