Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada failed to refute the strong evidence presented by the prosecution to prove that he amassed at least P50 million from the misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division said.
Estrada is facing a P183-million plunder case in connection with the pork barrel fund scam along with Janet Napoles, his former aide Pauline Labayen, and Napoles’ employee John Raymund De Asis.
The court, in a 215-page ruling on Thursday, denied the bail petitions of Estrada and Napoles.
The resolution said Estrada’s endorsement of the Non-government organizations owned by Napoles — GOs Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI) and Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI) — “provided the crucial edge for Napoles to gain control in the diversion of his PDAF allocation.”
The anti-graft court said “strong evidence has been introduced that Senator Estrada received at least P50 million from his PDAF allocation.”
The threshold amount for plunder is P50 million.
“By way of a mathematical computation, the total reached the amount of P55,795,000 which still surpasses the threshold amount of P50,000,000,” the court said.
“Emptied of all public insinuations and political overtones that has incessantly hovered over this case from the beginning, and while this ruling does not portend to be a judgment conviction for both accused, this Court has found that the prosecution has established a strong evidence of guilt to deny the bail petitions of both accused,” it added.
The court said Estrada and Napoles failed to sufficiently quash “the strong evidence of guilt presented against them.”
Estrada had attributed alleged irregularities and inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses Benhur Luy and Ruby Tuason.
However, the court said that the documentary evidence offered by the senator to show purported revisions in Luy’s daily disbursement reports (DDR) does not prove that Luy had access to the hard drive and was allowed to make changes therein when the National Bureau of Investigation was probing the scam.
The external hard drive contains daily disbursements which Luy recorded when he was finance officer of Napoles’ JLN Corporation.
Estrada also offered as evidence Tuason’s testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee in 2014 but the court said that taken as whole, the transcript of the testimony “does not weaken, but in fact bolsters” Tuason’s claim that she personally delivered alleged kickbacks to the senator.
“Tuason’s testimony in this charge for Plunder is not affected, much less impeached, by any perceived flaw in her testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on matters irrelevant to the issue before this Court,” the Sandiganbayan said.