Estrada and Revilla insist plunder charges are ‘mere Speculation’
After the Ombudsman filed plunder charges before the people’s court Sandiganbayan last week, accused Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla have finally filed their motions of reconsideration (MR) yesterday asking the Ombudsman to withdraw their complaints.
The basis for the senators’ MRs is ‘grave error’ on the part of the Ombudsman who based their charges on ‘mere suspicion and speculation, on bare and unsubstantiated allegations and on hearsay evidence.’
Estrada cited that at the time he endorsed the fake NGOs of ‘pork barrel queen’ Janet Lim Napoles, the NGOs were accredited by the implementing agencies (IA). Since the NGOs had been accredited by IAs, he cannot be charged of acting in ‘bad faith’ or ‘manifest partiality’ when he allocated his pork barrel funds to these NGOs.
In law books, bad faith means dishonesty leading to conscious wrongdoing while manifest partiality means biased favouring of one side over another.
‘Given the factual basis for such endorsement… it cannot be said that there was no rhyme or reason for such endorsement… [This] further disproves evident bad faith on my part,’ said Estrada through his spokesman Alexis Abastillas.
Revilla’s lawyer Joel Bodegon meanwhile said that through the MR, their camp is asking ‘for the Ombudsman to take a very serious look again at the evidence on record… because nothing holds Senator Bong Revilla liable for the crimes charged against him.’
Estrada and Revilla also lamented the fact that they were not given a chance to contest the additional allegations presented by whistleblowers Ruby Tuason and Dennis Cunanan. Tuason confessed she personally gave Estrada cash from Napoles while Cunanan said he personally talked to Estrada and Revilla by phone regarding the release of their PDAF for Napoles’ NGOs.
Both these direct evidences have been used by the Ombudsman as basis to prosecute the two senators.
Under Republic Act No 7080, plunder means collecting wealth from public funds through criminal acts. This includes getting percentages or kickbacks from government projects. Plunder is a non-bailable offence that is punishable by life imprisonment.
Senators Estrada and Revilla are presently out of the country, but have vowed to return to face the charges against them.
Aside from Estrada and Revilla, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, his chief of staff attorney Gigi Reyes, Ruby Tuason and other staffs, government officials and private persons were included in last week’s first batch of plunder charges filed by the Ombudsman.