THE Supreme Court on Wednesday stopped Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales from pushing with its investigation against “Jose Velarde” or Jaime Dichaves, a co-accused of former president Joseph Estrada in his plunder case.
The Court’s Third Division issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which effectively halted the Office of the Ombudsman from conducting its preliminary investigation against Dichaves.
The order also stopped Morales from re-filing any complaint or charges against Dichaves.
The TRO also stops the Sandiganbayan Special Division from proceeding with the case against Dichaves.
Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen recommended the issuance of a TRO, with concurrence from Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Roberto Abad and Jose Catral Mendoza.
Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta inhibited from the case because he was part of the Sandiganbayan Special Division who convicted Estrada, now the mayor of Manila, for plunder.
The Court also ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to file its answer to Dichaves’ petition within 10 days. Dichaves questioned the Ombudsman’s decision indicting him for plunder.
He is accused of conspiring with Estrada to amass wealth through the questionable acquisition by the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) of Belle Resources Corp. Estrada allegedly got a commission of P189 million from the deal which was deposited in Equitable PCIBank.
Estrada denied owning the P189 million account, saying it was Dichaves’.
Clarissa Ocampo testified before the Senate impeachment court and at the Sandiganbayan that it was Estrada who opened the account and signed the name “Jose Velarde”.
Estrada was convicted by the Sandiganbayan but was granted executive clemency by his successor, Gloria Arroyo.
When the case against Dichaves was filed with the Sandiganbayan, the Presiding Justice Francisco Villaruz allowed reinvestigation of the case by the Office of the Ombudsman.