Ombudsman blocks Jinggoy Estrada’s bid to dismiss plunder case

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has urged the Sandiganbayan not to allow former senator Jinggoy Estrada to file a demurrer to evidence in the plunder case against him in connection with his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.

In an 11-page opposition paper filed before the court’s Fifth Division recently, the ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor maintained that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) bank inquiry report was enough evidence to support a guilty verdict against Estrada.

In its 90-page inquiry report on Estrada’s financial and bank transactions, the AMLC said there were indications that the former senator received a total of P157.6 million in kickbacks from Napoles from 2007 to 2012.

 “In view of the sufficiency of prosecution evidence, there exist no room for leave to be granted accused Estrada in order for him to file demurrer to evidence,” the prosecutors said.

Estrada’s motion for leave to file a demurrer to evidence was submitted for resolution yesterday following the court’s receipt of the prosecution’s opposition paper, the Fifth Division Office of the Clerk of Court said.

The filing of a demurrer to evidence is legal strategy usually employed by the accused to seek the dismissal of the case halfway through the trial.

The demurrer allows the accused to dispense with his presentation of counter-exhibits and instead challenge the sufficiency of evidence of the prosecution.

Filed by the ombudsman in June 2014, the plunder case against Estrada stemmed from his alleged amassing of P183.793 million worth of kickbacks for allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund from 2004 to 2012 to the fake non-government organizations reportedly owned by alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. 

Estrada had repeatedly denied having any transaction with Napoles concerning his PDAF.

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