A year after Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s arrest for plunder in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, Rappler learned he has been telling his allies in San Juan that he expects to be out of jail soon. These conversations reportedly took place during recent visits to the senator’s detention cell in Camp Crame.
Estrada’s bail hearings are about to end as the prosecution is scheduled to wrap up its presentation of evidence this July. After this, perhaps by August, the Sandiganbayan is expected to decide on his petition for bail.
What gives rise to Estrada’s optimism is unclear. The anti-graft court has denied the bail petition of his colleague, Senator Bong Revilla, and they have similar cases. Only the kickback amounts differ: P247 million for Revilla and P183 million for Estrada.
As we await the verdict, we take a look at the 3 justices of the Sandiganbayan 5th Division which is handling the Estrada case, to get to know them better. To start with, this is not the only high-profile case in its sala. Pending are graft cases involving:
- Former First Gentleman Juan Miguel “Mike” Arroyo for the purchase of two helicopters from Manila Aerospace Products Training Corporation
- Former Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymond “LRay” Villafuerte for alleged questionable fuel purchases amounting to P20 million
- Members of the House of Representatives in connection with the P728-million fertilizer fund scam. In 2013, the 5th Division ordered the arrest of Lanao del Norte Representative Abdullah Dimaporo and 5 others.
Jurado, Gesmundo, and Estoesta
Justice Roland Jurado, who heads the 5th Division, is not new to hot-button cases. He penned the decisions denying the government’s 60% claim on Lucio Tan’s assets; convicting former Public Works Secretary Florante Soriquez for a breach of contract for the P38.2-million Pampanga megadike; and acquitting Imelda Marcos in corruption charges involving housing and realty business transactions.
Before Alexander Gesmundo was appointed to the Sandiganbayan, he was a trial lawyer at the Office of the Solicitor General.
As justice, he penned the decisions convicting former Mayor Vicente Villapando of San Vicente, Palawan, for ghost deliveries as well as two retired and 7 active police officials for graft in connection with P38 million worth of ghost purchases.
He also wrote the decisions acquitting retired Major General Carlos Garcia of perjury when he failed to declare ownership of 3 vehicles in his assets statement; and former Mayor Rodrigo Wenceslao (Merida, Leyte), also in a perjury case having to do with his declarations in his assets statement.
Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta is the newest member, a recent appointee to the anti-graft court.
The shadow that still lingers, though, is the 3 justices’ decision last year to inhibit themselves in the Estrada case. They cited personal reasons but it seemed like they were under pressure from various sides; they were prevailed upon to stay put.
Will Jinggoy Estrada see his forecast come true? – Marites Danguilan Vitug/Rappler.com
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