Sandigan denies Jinggoy’s bail plea

Michael Punongbayan, Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s petition for bail before the Sandiganbayan  division hearing his plunder case has been denied.

Alexis Abastillas-Suarez, Estrada’s spokesman, confirmed late yesterday afternoon that the Fifth Division has not granted his plea for temporary liberty, although they haven’t read the 200-page decision since it was just received by the legal team, specifically in the office of  Sabino Acut Jr., another lawyer of Estrada, around 5 p.m.

“Even if we are just set to sit down, read and study the resolution, we were still shocked knowing that the bail petition was denied,” she said.

“During the hearings, we are really confident that the court will issue a decision favorable to the senator since the prosecution have been presenting questionable witnesses, and their arguments were weak.”

Suarez said in an interview that they would file a motion for reconsideration on the denial of the petition for bail.

“For now, we cannot give any further comments until we have fully read the resolution,” she said.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor has already received a copy of the Sandiganbayan resolution denying Estrada’s bail, Office of the Ombudsman public information and media relations bureau acting director Rawnsle Lopez told reporters in a text message.

“The Office of the Special Prosecutor confirms bail petition of Senator Estrada has been denied by the Sandiganbayan,” Lopez said.

However, the staff of the Fifth Division  was mum about the resolution when reporters inquired about it yesterday afternoon.

The Fifth Division has been hearing Estrada’s petition for bail since July 2014.

Estrada’s plunder case arose from his alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam. He is accused of amassing P183.793 million in kickbacks for allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the fake non-government organizations of Janet Lim-Napoles.

Estrada has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City since June 2014.

Estrada was confident that his petition for bail would be granted due to the supposed weak evidence of the prosecution.

Plunder is a non-bailable offense if it is shown that the evidence against the accused is strong.

Meanwhile, the Third Division rejected yesterday the request of Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s former chief of staff, that her plunder trial be suspended pending the resolution of her petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court (SC).

Justices ruled that the proceedings cannot be put on hold unless the SC issues a temporary restraining order (TRO).

Nevertheless, the Sandiganbayan moved the start of the trial proper from Jan. 13 to Jan. 20 to give Reyes more time to prepare.

“You just agree among yourselves but we cannot suspend the proceedings simply because there is a petition for certiorari which revolves around only one witness,” Associate Justice Samuel Martires told prosecutors and defense lawyers.

“If we suspend this proceedings without the TRO, we would appear to be ignorant of the law and we abuse our discretion.” 

Reyes’ request for suspension of the proceedings is based on her claim that during preliminary investigation, she was not given the affidavits of state witness Ruby Tuason, who the prosecution intends to present as their first witness during the trial.



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