SENATOR Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and his lawyers are asking the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division to bring his hearing for bail petitions back to the previous schedule, which was every Monday on an exclusive basis.
The court had been hearing Estrada’s petition for bail once a week every Monday before the court said last August 3 that it would conduct bail hearings on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“Since the change of hearing days to Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the allotted period of twenty-five (25) to forty (40) minutes per hearing day, the allotted total time for this case had been drastically reduced. When the hearing of this case was exclusive on Mondays, the actual hearing time was at least two and a half-hours, or a total of at least one hundred fifty (150) minutes per week,” the defense wrote in a motion filed on Monday morning.
“[T]he total hearing time allotted to this case for the last two weeks had been an average of thirty minutes per hearing day or a total of ninety (90) minutes per week for the last two weeks. A loss of sixty (60) minutes per week from the previous Monday hearings,” it said.
Estrada is detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center over a P183-million plunder charge–a non-bailable offense–in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
The court set additional dates to hear the case in response to the Ombudsman’s request for such.
“Because we are being blamed for delaying the proceedings… that’s why we are doing our best to expedite everything,” Associate Justice Roland Jurado who leads the Fifth Division said in open court last August 3.
Since then, Estrada’s bail petition is being heard alongside other cases including another plunder case pending before the Fifth Division–the one filed against former Rep. Edgar Valdez of the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) that is also in connection with the multibillion-peso PDAF scam.