Estrada appeals plunder case before Ombudsman

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014


SENATOR Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday filed a motion for reconsideration before the Office of the Ombudsman over his alleged participation in the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

In his motion, the senator said that there is no proof that he received and amassed even a single centavo out of his PDAF allocation.

"There is nothing on record which established that Senator Estrada received kickbacks of around '50 percent of the PDAF amount involved.' Benhur Luy and other witnesses never claimed to have personally handled and/or witnessed the delivery of 'around 50 percent of the PDAF amount involved' to Senator Estrada," the motion read.

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Estrada added that Benhur Luy's ledger "does not establish that money was delivered" to him. In fact, he said, the purported ledger will not even support the alleged scheme or modus of giving 50 percent kickbacks to legislators.

Estrada also maintained that the evidence on record fails to establish probable cause to indict him for plunder and for violation of the Anti-Graft Law.

"Charges based on mere suspicion and speculation, on bare and unsubstantiated allegations and on hearsay evidence cannot become basis of probable cause," the lawmaker said. "None of the witnesses ever claimed to be privy or have personal knowledge about any participation, agreement or involvement which I may have in the so-called PDAF scam."

He noted that the testimonies of Luy, as well as other witnesses such as Gertrudes Luy, Marina Sula and Merlina Sunas are not based on personal knowledge and their statements were based merely on what they heard from Janet Napoles, the alleged PDAF scam mastermind. They said in their affidavits that they never delivered any amount of money to the senator personally.

Meanwhile, Estrada pointed out that the testimonies of socialite Ruby Tuason and Technology Resource Center director general on-leave Dennis Cunanan are "unsubstantiated and untrustworthy since it was both made in consideration of a promise of immunity from prosecution and were not even corroborated."

Estrada further said that the Ombudsman gravely erred in considering the alleged repeated and direct choice of the non-government organizations headed and controlled by Napoles as evidence of "manifest partiality," as he emphasized that the said NGOs were all properly accredited by the respective implementing agencies.

"Given that the NGOs endorsed were accredited at the time of endorsement, it cannot be said that there was no rhyme or reason for such endorsement. Given the factual basis for such endorsement, evident bad faith cannot be imputed. Also the certification by the IAs (implementing agencies) that these NGOs were in fact accredited, a fact not disputed by complainants, further disproves evident bad faith on my part," he said in the motion.

Estrada maintained that he has no control or custody of his PDAF since the subject funds were, "in fact and in law, released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) directly to the implementing agencies, and from the implementing agencies to the local government units or non-government organizations."

Last Monday, Estrada's co-accused Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. together with Tuason and lawyer Jessica "Gigi" Reyes have also asked the Ombudsman to reconsider its decision to charge them with plunder and graft for alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam.

Estrada, Revilla, and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile last week were indicted for allegedly channeling hundreds of millions of pesos of their PDAF allocations to fake NGOs created and controlled by Napoles. (Sunnex)

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