Ombud withdraws motion to amend information in Estrada case

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Friday, June 27, 2014


GOVERNMENT prosecutors withdrew on Friday their motion to amend the information for the plunder and graft charges filed against Senator Jinggoy Estrada after being told by the anti-graft court that the move could lead to the release of the accused from detention.

"If I were you, I would not amend the information," Associate Justice Roland Jurado, the fifth division chairman, said in a hearing on Friday. "We are just warning you of the effect of the information. The accused will be released."

Jurado said the issuance of the arrest warrants for Estrada and his co-accused was based on the original information filed by the Ombudman's Office of the Special Prosecutor before the Sandiganbayan.

In response, Prosecution Danilo Lopez immediately told the court that they are withdrawing their manifestation to amend the information.

The prosecutors earlier asked the court to amend the information for graft to emphasize that the senator was the one who amassed, accumulated, and acquired ill-gotten wealth in connivance or in conspiracy with his co-accused public officer and private individuals.

The prosecutors moved to delete the phrase "enabling (businesswoman Janet Lim) Napoles to misappropriate the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) proceeds for her personal gain" in the plunder case to highlight the participation of the high-profile accused.

"The phrases 'collecting directly or indirectly' and 'and/or anomalous,' as well as the words 'percentage' and 'collected' may also be alleged in paragraph (a) of each of the informations," the prosecution said in their motion.

Estrada allegedly pocketed 183-million by channeling his PDAF allocations to on the fake non-government organization controlled by Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scam.

On Thursday, the prosecution filed a similar motion in connection with the plunder and graft cases against Estrada's co-accused, Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., but the first division dismissed it.

Revilla's legal counsel Joel Bodegon said the Ombudsman's motion to amend the information will change the overall content of the case.

"Yung amendments pinapalabas nila na yung plunder ay ang utak ay si Senator Revilla, 'yun ang amendments nila. Eh samantalang yung orginal information ay si Janet Lim Napoles ang mastermind. Napakalaking amendments yun kaya tinutulan namin," Bodegon said.

He said the eagerness of the Ombudsman to amend the original information mean that it has filed a weak case against Revilla.

Meanwhile, the motion for bail filed by Estrada has been submitted for resolution and the prosecution was given five days to comment.

Estrada is set to be arraigned on Monday, June 30. (Sunnex)

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