THE Office of the Ombudsman is confident of the cases it had filed before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam, despite the grant of bail to former Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.
“We are confident, we have never been more confident about the evidence that we have,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales told reporters in a chance interview on Wednesday after delivering a speech at the University of Santo Tomas.
The Sandiganbayan’s Special Fifth Division, in a resolution promulgated on November 10, maintained its grant of bail to Estrada despite the plunder case he is facing.
Asked on the court’s affirmation of the grant of the bail to Estrada, Morales said “the lens of the court, the Sandiganbayan is different from our lens…”
“Well the panel of investigators and prosecutors are still meeting on the matter,” she said when asked if the Office of the Ombudsman intends to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court.
The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division conducted bail hearings beginning in July 2014 after Estrada filed a bail petition. In January 2016, the court denied his bail petition, citing strong evidence.
This prompted Estrada to file a motion for reconsideration. In May 2016, the court maintained its ruling that denied his bail petition.
Estrada filed an omnibus motion in September 2016 asking the court to, among others, dismiss the plunder case or grant him bail in light of the high court’s 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 funds during her presidency.
Voting 3-2 in a ruling promulgated on September 15, 2017, the Sandiganbayan’s Special Fifth Division allowed Estrada to post bail over the plunder case but denied his plea for case dismissal. He posted bail on September 16, 2017.
The prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration, but the court denied the motion for lack of merit in a resolution promulgated on November 10.