Ombudsman wants to try Dichaves plunder case


THE Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) is asking the Supreme Court (SC) to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the case against Jaime Dichaves, maintaining that it acted within its powers in charging him with plunder.

Dichaves was the owner of the so-called “Jose Velarde” accounts, in which deposed President Joseph Estrada allegedly deposited kickbacks from the purchase of Belle Corp. shares by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS).

The OMB questioned his claim that it acted with grave abuse of discretion because it is vested by law with authority to determine probable cause.

In a memorandum, the OMB added that the finding of probable cause against Dichavez was not only based on Estrada’s impeachment and plunder trials and testimonies, but also on the contents of the “second envelope,” the deposit in the Velarde account, the facts leading to the GSIS and SSS’ purchase of Belle Corp. shares and several affidavits.

“[Dichaves] left the country during this crucial period in our history. That was his choice. More importantly, petitioner has no personality to participate in, or even cross-examine, the witnesses during the impeachment trial. That is his misfortune,” it said.

Dichaves returned to the country four years after the verdict against Estrada was handed down.

“These choices and misfortunes cannot be imputed to the Office of the Ombudsman for what petitioner believes to be a deprivation and violation of his rights,” it added.

In 2012, the OMB sustained Dichavez’ plunder charge after conducting the reinvestigation ordered by the Sandiganbayan. Pending investigation, his arrest warrant was revoked.

Just before he was arraigned and a new arrest warrant was issued, the SC stopped the OMB and the Sandiganbayan last year from proceeding with the charge against Dichaves in response to his petition for certiorari.

He sought reprieve from the SC after the Sandiganbayan junked his request to dismiss the case in 2010 and ordered the reinvestigation in 2011.

The SC then ordered the OMB and Dichaves last February to give their memoranda within a month and to give a copy to the Sandiganbayan.

The OMB also asked the SC to dismiss the petition for certiorari and affirm the Ombudsman’s resolution indicting Dichaves in the plunder suit against Estrada.

Estrada was found guilty in 2007 but was pardoned by his successor President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo.


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