SC affirms indictment of ex-senator Estrada in PDAF scam

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SC affirms indictment of ex-senator Estrada in PDAF scam
By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman, indicting former senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada for plunder and graft in connection with his alleged involvement in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.

“The Court, voting 6-4 with four taking no part, upheld the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause against petitioner Estrada,” SC Spokesman Theodore Te said during a press briefing after the High Court’s en banc session.

The SC has yet to release copies of the main ruling, as well as the opinions of the magistrates and those who voted against Estrada and those who dissented.

In September 2017, the Sandiganbayan allowed Estrada to post a PHP1.33-million bail for his temporary liberty.

Of the three former senators charged in connection with the pork barrel scam case, only Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. remains in detention as the SC also allowed Juan Ponce Enrile to post bail in 2015.

Estrada, a son of former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, was indicted by the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly pocketing PHP183 million in kickbacks from alleged scam mastermind and accused businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

He allegedly allocated portions of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as a legislator to “bogus” projects through non-government organizations affiliated with Napoles.

This is not the first time for Estrada to be indicted for plunder. He faced trial for the same offense, along with his father, from 2001 to 2007 over more than PHP4 billion in proceeds of the illegal numbers game “jueteng”, misappropriated tobacco excise taxes, commissions from the sale of the real estate firm Belle Corp., and bank accounts under the name “Jose Velarde”. (PNA)

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