MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan denied on Thursday, January 6, the bail petitions of detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and co-accused Janet Lim Napoles in their plunder case over the pork barrel scam.
Saying it found proof of Estrada's “active participation” in the diversion of his Priority Development Assistance Fund to dubious organizations, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division said: “Wherefore, the motion for bail filed by Senator Jose 'Jinggoy' P. Ejercito Estrada is hereby denied, after finding that the prosecution has presented a strong evidence of guilt against him. In the same vein, the petition for bail filed by Janet Lim Napoles is denied.”
In the 215-page resolution – signed by associate justices Roland Jurado, Alexander Gesmundo, and Ma Theresa Dolores Gomez Estoesta – the division said Estrada’s involvement was evident in his requests for the Department of Budget and Management to release his PDAF to NGOs identified with businesswoman Napoles, triggering the fraudulent transactions.
Plunder is typically a non-bailable offense, but the senator told the court that the prosecution had weak evidence against him.
Estrada challenged the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence saying the testimonies of whistleblowers Benhur Luy, Merlina Sunas, Gertrudes Luy, Marina Sula and Ruby Tuason were self-serving and applicable only to their personal participation in siphoning government funds from state-funded projects.
An informant from the OSP said the main ground cited by the court was the evidence supporting the prosecution’s allegation that Estrada received at least P50 million in kickbacks from the PDAF transactions.
Detained at Camp Crame, Estrada is accused of pocketing P183.79 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel allocations by funneling some P278 million PDAF releases through selected non-government organizations that were later found to be bogus by state auditors and graft investigators form the Ombudsman.
Among Estrada’s co-accused are his former aide Pauline Therese Labayen, businesswoman and alleged PDAF scam brain Janet Lim-Napoles aand Napoles’ employees John Raymund De Asis and John Ronald Lim. – Rappler.com