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The senator says the Ombudsman denied him due process when it failed to furnish him copies of the evidence submitted against him
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of the senators charged with plunder over the alleged misuse of their pork barrel, is asking the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the probe being conducted by the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman, he said, denied him due process when it failed to furnish him copies of the evidence submitted against him.
On Wednesday, May 7, Estrada filed a 29-page petition with the SC, seeking to annul a March 27 order by the Ombudsman denying his request for the affidavits of select witnesses.
He also asked for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the preliminary investigation by the Ombudsman.
On April 7, Estrada filed a motion for reconsideration (MR) before the Ombudsman, asking for a review of the finding that there’s probable cause to file a plunder case against him before the Sandiganbayan. The MR has yet to be resolved.
Not just procedural
Citing this “procedural violation,” Estrada said his constitutional right to due process was “grievously ignored” and “trampled upon” by the Ombudsman.
Estrada said that the finding of probable cause against him was “premised on evidence not disclosed to him,” effectively preventing him from exercising his right to answer the allegations.
Estrada, however, believes the Ombudsman’s denial is more than “just a procedural misstep but is tantamount to an absolute refusal to perform a positive duty imposed by law and constitutes grave abuse of discretion.”
“By intentionally withholding filings in its possession, including pieces of evidence it eventually used in precipitately deciding on the existence of probable cause, Ombudsman violated the right of Sen. Estrada to be apprised of the records of the case pertinent to the charges against him,” Estrada’s petition read.
Estrada also said the Ombudsman’s failure to provide him copies of the documents he cited was in violation of pertinent SC rulings which hold that “a preliminary investigation is in effect a realistic judicial appraisal.”
Estrada has been implicated by socialite-turned-witness Tuason and provisional state witness Cunanan for having received kickbacks in the scam and for vouching for the non-governmental organizations (NGO) associated with alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles respectively.
The diversion of lawmakers PDAF to bogus projects of NGOs associated with Napoles was revealed by whistleblower Benhur Luy, who was rescued by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents in March 2013.