THE Sandiganbayan’s Special Fifth Division has denied the prosecution’s plea to reconsider its ruling that allowed former Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada to post bail over the plunder case he was facing in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
“In fine, for failure of the prosecution to present sufficient evidence to identify the mastermind/main actor of the whole plunder scheme, who had amassed ill-gotten wealth and who principally benefitted therefrom, the grant of the application for bail is in order,” the court said in part in a resolution.
“Finally, a careful examination of the instant motion reveals that the issues raised by the prosecution are the very same issues already discussed and passed upon by the Court in the assailed Resolution and finding no new matters that could merit the reconsideration of its previous Resolution, the Court finds no cogent reason to depart from it,” it also said in part.
Estrada filed an omnibus motion last year asking the court to, among others, dismiss the plunder case and/or grant him bail in light of the Supreme Court (SC) decision, which dismissed for lack of evidence the plunder case that was filed against former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds during her presidency.
Voting 3-2 in a ruling promulgated on September 15, the Sandiganbayan’s Special Fifth Division allowed him to post bail but denied his plea for case dismissal.
Estrada is one of three former senators — the other two were Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile — whom the Office of the Ombudsman charged in 2014, along with Janet Lim-Napoles and other individuals, in connection with the PDAF scam.
The Ombudsman filed a P183-million plunder case and 11 counts of graft against Estrada, a P224-million plunder case and 16 counts of graft against Revilla, and a P172-million plunder case and 15 counts of graft against Enrile.
On September 16, Estrada posted a P1-million bail over the plunder case he was facing and bail totaling P330,000 over the graft cases (that’s P30,000 for each case).
Revilla is detained at the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crame in Quezon City, while Enrile is out on bail after the Supreme Court granted his petition on humanitarian grounds.
Napoles is detained at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. REINA LEANNE C. TOLENTINO