- Former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada is being accused of plunder and 11 graft counts
- Estrada filed a motion which hopes to absorb the 11 graft counts to his plunder charges by arguing that the graft counts falls under the definition of plunder according to the Republic Act 7080
- The Sandiganbayan has denied the motion on the lack of merit
The Sandiganbayan has denied former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada’s motion to dismiss what he called were redundant graft charges which were filed against him in association to his alleged participation in the pork barrel scam.
Estrada filed a motion to dismiss his 11 counts of graft charges, arguing that these were linked to his plunder case and therefore cannot be considered separate charges.
However, the court failed to find any merit in the argument that the charges were redundant. The court also found that the argument of redundancy is completely different from arguing to dismiss an offense if a mistake were made in the filing of the information in accordance to the rules on Criminal Procedure.
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Nevertheless, even if there were a mistake, this could not be determined until the trial has started and therefore has no merit currently to dismiss the case.
‘The issue raised by the movant does not deal with any ‘mistake’ covered by the above-quoted rules, such as not charging the proper offense, but on an entirely different ground or reasons,’ the court said.
The court believed that Estrada hoped to quell the information filed against him, however, the former Senator was unable to do so because he was already accused.
‘Actually, movant seeks to quash the herein informations, but is already barred because he has already been arraigned, and he has no grounds to rely on under the rules,’ the court said.
Consequently, the Sandiganbayan found no merit to Estrada’s motion.
‘Wherefore, in light of the foregoing, accused Estrada’s motion to dismiss is denied for lack of merit,’ the court said.
Son of the former President Joseph Estrada, “Jinggoy” Estrada is charged of being involved in the Pork Barrel Scam, a corrupt program that earned kickbacks from the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
The former Senator said that the charges against him linked to the PDAF incident were very similar to the 11 counts of graft filed against him, since both were the subject of plunder. Consequently, Estrada sought to ‘absorb’ the graft charges into the plunder charges against him.
Estrada argued that under the Republic Act 7080, graft offenses could also be defined as plunder.
‘Sen. Estrada submits that the indictment in these consolidated graft cases are deemed absorbed by the indictment for plunder and should be dismissed insofar as he is concerned,’ his motion said.
However, the Sandiganbayan could not absorb the graft counts with the plunder charges. The court found that the 11 counts of graft covers the period 2008 to 2010 and therefore are different from the plunder charges which covers the period between 2004 to 2012.
‘The period covered in the plunder case starts from 2004 to 2012, while Section 3(e) cases start with the year 2008 and ends up to 2010 only. This means there were possible transactions occurring four years earlier and two years later, that were not covered in these Sec 3(e) cases,’ the court said.
Therefore, the court found that the plunder charges could not be lumped with the graft counts.
The former Senator is being charged of plunder for receiving P183 million in kickbacks. Also, Estrada is accused of violating Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law when he gave preference to Napoles’ phony organizations like Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation.
Estrada is currently being held at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center and was denied bail. Along with him are Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. - Kami Media