MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 21, denied the petitions of Senator Jinggoy Estrada to junk the plunder and graft cases against him over his alleged involvement in the Philippines’ biggest corruption scandal in recent history.
The High Court voted 9-5-1 on the cases.
The decision on the senator’s cases was penned by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and concurred by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Mariano del Castillo, Martin Villarama Jr, Jose Perez, Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Marvic Leonen.
Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Lucas Bersamin, and Jose Mendoza dissented.
The most recent Aquino appointee, Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, inhibited due to his previous position as Solicitor General or the government’s counsel.
SC Spokesman Theodore Te made the announcement in a news conference.
Watch the statement below.
The High Court decided on the senator’s petitions on the same day it junked a disqualification case against his father, former president now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada.
The younger Estrada is charged of plunder and 15 counts of graft for the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also known as pork barrel.
The decision came after weeks of postponement by the SC en banc. Estrada filed a petition in May arguing that the Ombudsman had denied his constitutional right to due process when his request to be furnished copies of counter-affidavits of other respondents, new witnesses, and other filings was denied.
In his petitions, Estrada said this “procedural violation” prevented him from exercising his right to answer the allegations.
Presently detained in Camp Crame in Quezon City, Estrada alleges the pork scam cases against him is a form of political persecution.
Estrada maintains there is still no evidence showing he directly benefited from the PDAF scam.
“Even Ruby Tuason, assuming that her testimony is credible and believable, never said that she had delivered to Sen. Estrada such sums of money which is anywhere near P50,000,000,” his petition read.
Two other senators charged with plunder and graft in relation to the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, Sentators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and Juan Ponce-Enrile, also filed similar petitions assailing procedures undertaken by the Ombudsman and the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan respectively.
The two senators are also detained in Camp Crame.
The senators are accused of pocketing billions worth of public funds channeled through fake non-governmental organizations controlled by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Weeks ahead of the vote, Rappler sources privy to the deliberations said there was a stalemate on the cases, with justices’ sentiments evenly divided at 7-7. (READ: Tight voting seen on Jinggoy’s freedom)
Court insiders said there was “intense lobbying” for a decision in favor of Estrada. – with Angela Casauay/Rappler.com