SC stops plunder trial of 'Jose Velarde'
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday, July 15, ordered the Sandiganbayan to put on hold the arraignment and trial for plunder of businessman Jaime Dichaves, who had admitted to own the alias Jose Velarde to shield former President Joseph Estrada from charges in 2001.
Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr, chairperson of the Third Division of the SC, asked the Ombudsman to comment within a “non-extendible period” of 10 days.
According to the SC Public Information Office, no vote was indicated in the decision to issue the temporary restraining order (TRO). Justice Diosdado Peralta inhibited from the decision due to his previous participation in the cases at the Sandiganbayan.
The petition for certoriari was filed by Atty Pacifico Agabin.
The High Court enjoined the Sandiganbayan and the Ombudsman “from proceeding with the arraignment and trial of the petition for the crime of Plunder under RA No. 7080, effective immediately.”
The decision also said that the TRO will continue “until further orders from the Court.”
Dichaves was linked to the plunder charges against former President Estrada. During Estrada's impeachment trial in 2001, charges were made that the President held secret bank accounts under the name Jose Velarde. Dichaves came forward to own up to the accounts.
In 2007, Estrada was found guilty by the Sandiganbayan but was immediately pardoned by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. – Rappler.com