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‘Withdrawal of amended complaint vs Jinggoy proves charges rushed’

Evelyn Macairan, Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The decision of government prosecutors to withdraw its amended complaint against Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in the pork barrel fund scam case before the Sandiganbayan was an indication the filing of the charges was rushed, a lawyer said yesterday.

Alexis Abastillas Suarez, one of the lawyers of Estrada, said the move was not something the camp of the senator would exactly call a welcome development, although it did say a lot about how the charges were hastily prepared.

Suarez argued the move to amend the information filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Estrada was an indication the case was hurriedly filed and they knew the charges were baseless.

“It is obvious that the filing of the case was rushed even though the evidence was not strong. That is the effect of the motion,” Suarez said in an interview over dwIZ radio.

The fifth division of the Sandiganbayan warned the prosecutors against the move to amend the information because this could result in Estrada being set free on bail.

This prompted the prosecution to withdraw its motion, which was meant to make Estrada the main culprit in the pork barrel scam case.

Suarez explained the court allows as a matter of procedure the amendment of the information against an accused at any time before the arraignment proceedings.

In the case of Estrada, Suarez noted the prosecution wanted to change the word “conspiracy” to “in collaboration.”

He explained that in the original information, Estrada and his co-accused, including Janet Lim-Napoles, would be charged with plunder.

“If they change it then the senator would become the most guilty and Napoles and the others would become mere accomplices. The nature of the criminal liability would change,” he pointed out.

However, since the warrant of arrest issued against Estrada was based on the original information filed by the prosecution, Suarez explained an amendment could have resulted in his being released on bail.

Suarez said a motion for bail has already been filed with the court and the prosecution has been directed to file its comment.

Estrada would be arraigned on Monday at the Sandiganbayan.

On Thursday, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., one of the accused in the scam, was arraigned in a separate division of the anti-graft court handling the case.

Another division of the Sandiganbayan handling the case against Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has yet to determine if there is probable cause to issue the warrant of arrest.                         

 

 

 

 

 

ALEXIS ABASTILLAS SUAREZ CASE ESTRADA JANET LIM-NAPOLES JINGGOY ESTRADA JUAN PONCE ENRILE OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN SANDIGANBAYAN SUAREZ
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