Sandiganbayan allows Estrada, Napoles to seek plunder case dismissal

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 20, 2019   •   2007

(L-R) Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles

The Sandiganbayan has allowed senatorial candidate Jinggoy Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to file for the dismissal of the plunder charge against them.

The 5th division of the Sandiganbayan has given both parties 10 days to file their demurrer of evidence. The prosecution will also be given 10 days to respond.

The resolution states: “After a meticulous examination of the totality of evidence presented by the prosecution, both testimonial and documentary, the Court resolves to grant the present motion of the accused, to sufficiently provide him an opportunity to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence establishing material elements o the offense charged to support a judgment of guilt.”

Estrada and Napoles are facing plunder and graft charges following their involvement in the ‘pork barrel scam’. Estrada is accused of amassing P180 million kickback from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of bogus non-government organizations which is reportedly linked to Napoles.

READ: Janet Napoles to serve a lifetime in jail over PDAF scam

Estrada denies his involvement with the ‘pork barrel scam’ and connection with Napoles. Meanwhile, Napoles is already convicted in a separate plunder case in December last year.—Aileen Cerrudo

JBC extends application period for CA, CTA, Sandiganbayan vacancies

Robie de Guzman   •   August 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Judicial and Bar Council on Thursday announced it has extended the application period for several vacant positions in the Court of Appeals (CA), and other courts.

In an advisory, the JBC said it moved the deadline from August 25 to September 25 following requests for extension of the deadline of submission of documents owing to the difficulty in securing documents in view of the imposition of modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite were placed under MECQ from August 4 to 18. It has now shifted to general community quarantine status.

The JBC said there are job openings in the CA, Sandiganbayan, Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) as well as in the Legal Education Board.

CA vacancies are for the positions left by Justices Rodil Zalameda, Edgardo Delos Santos, Mario Lopez, and Samuel Gaerlan who were appointed to the Supreme Court; Justices Luisa Padilla and Jane Aurora Lantion who compulsorily retired in January 2020.

The opening in Sandiganbayan is for the position left by the late Justice Reynaldo Cruz, while the CTA vacancies are for the positions formerly held by retired Justices Cielito Mindaro-Grulla and Esperanza Fabon-Victorino.

The JBC also said applications are also open for several positions in the Legal Education Board.

The council reminded applicants to access the online application scheduler in its website on or before August 25 to register and selected the date they will submit their documents.

Applicants must also submit the complete and accurate digitized versions of their documents through electronic mail on their selected date and time of appointment in the scheduler.

The submission of hard copies of documentary requirements, however, is suspended until further notice, the JBC said.

Malacañang reminds charity groups to coordinate with LGUs for relief ops after Jinggoy’s arrest

Marje Pelayo   •   May 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has reiterated its call on humanitarian groups to coordinate first with local government units (LGUs) before conducting relief operations especially when the government is implementing strict protocols in relation to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. 

The reminder comes after the arrest of former Senator Jinggoy Estrada for allegedly violating the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) when he distributed goods to the people of San Juan City.

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque stressed President Rodrigo Duterte’s plea to set aside politics while the country is battling COVID-19.

“Nakikiusap po kami doon sa mga nais magkawanggawa na makipag-coordinate po tayo sa LGUs dahil doon sa pagbibigay ng ayuda sa ating mga kababayan, kinakailangan pong magkaroon ng safeguards nang hindi po magkumpol-kumpulan at dagsain kayo ng taumbayan [We ask humanitarian missions to coordinate with the LGUs because there must be safeguards in relief operations to make sure that people will not crowd the relief distribution],” Roque stressed.

Kinakailangang magkaroon ng hakbang upang masigurado ang social distancing habang namimigay ng ayuda [There must be protocols to make sure that social distancing is observed during relief distribution],” he added.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) explained that the former senator did not coordinate with San Juan City LGU in his relief operations which led to his arrest. 

According to DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, Estrada and his team are not even considered authorized persons outside of residence.

Nakita ko sa video may mga pagsuway sa physical distancing [I saw in the video that there were violations of social distancing protocols],” the official said.

Pati ang mga seniors at saka minors ay lumabas din ng bahay. Another pagsaway na naman iyon [Even seniors and minors went out of their houses. That’s another violation],” he added.

Though they understand the former lawmaker’s intention to help, Año said that does not exempt him from following strict ECQ guidelines. 

“Kung kaaway naman niya ang LGU, pwede naman ang OCD [If he’s in conflict with the LGU, he can go straight to the (Office of the Civil Defense)],” Secretary Año said.

Ibigay mo ang gusto mong ipamigay doon, and let OCD do its job dahil may mga ahensya naman sa ilalim niyan [You distribute goods there and let the OCD do its job as there are agencies under it that can assist you],” he added.

But Estrada maintained he did not violate any law but instead, local politics had a hand in his arrest. 

“Why are they singling me out? Just because I am an Estrada? Bawal na ba kaming tumulong dito sa [Are we banned from helping the people of] San Juan?” Estrada said. 

“Noon pa lang sinasabi niya na huwag tutulungan ang mga rolling store namin [Even back then he discouraged others from helping our rolling stores] So, you expect me to get a fair shake? I don’t think so,” he added.

However, Mayor Francis Zamora denied the allegation reiterating that Estrada violated the ECQ protocols.

Zamora noted that he even granted a one-day permit to the former senator’s daughter, former San Juan Vice Mayor Janella Estrada when she requested a permit for their rolling drugstore.

Zamora maintained that the arrest of Estrada had nothing to do with politics but with law and order especially amid the coronavirus pandemic wherein strict measures must be observed. 

The Estrada clan is the archrival of the Zamoras in San Juan City.

Estrada was later released from the San Juan Police Station. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Sandiganbayan junks raps vs Purisima, Napeñas over Mamasapano clash

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 22, 2020

The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the charges against former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima and ex-PNP Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas over the Mamasapano clash in 2015.

The dismissal of the charges against the two former police officers was due to the lack of probable cause to charge them of graft and usurpation of official functions complaints for their involvement in the anti-terrorist operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao in 2015.

The said operation led to the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Purisima was charged for still leading the operation to kill terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir or Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman, under Oplan Exodus, despite being suspended as the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief.

Napeñas, on the other hand, was also charged for allegedly conspiring with Purisima.

Based on the resolution, Purisima and Napeñas cannot be charged due to the lack of sufficient evidence.

“There is no mention in the information, nor any evidence on record, that accused Napeñas received or expected to receive any material remuneration or consideration therefor,” the resolution states. “It could not be said that Purisima was under the pretense of being a PNP chief because he was ordered by his president and commander-in-chief to perform such supervision and monitoring.”

Purisima and Napeñas were charged with violating Section 3(a) of the anti-graft law which punishes “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations.”

Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan said the dismissal of the criminal complaints did not mean that the two accused had no liability over the Mamasapano clash and appropriate charges can still be filed against them.

“What the court merely ruled is the non-existence of probable cause against Napeñas in both charges and the insufficiency of the allegations in the information filed against Purisima,” the resolution reads.—AAC

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