MANILA - Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada has gone to the Supreme Court (SC) in an effort to overturn the resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman that found probable cause to indict him for plunder for allegedly receiving millions in kickbacks in connection with the "pork barrel scam."
In a 29-page petition for certiorari filed on Wednesday, Estrada urged the high court to annul the Ombudsman's findings for violating his right to due process and his right to be properly apprised of the charges against him.
Estrada, who has been charged for allegedly pocketing P183.79 million in kickbacks and commissions from businesswoman and alleged scam brains Janet Lim Napoles for allocating portions of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) into Napoles "bogus" NGOs, claimed that the anti-graft office, despite his formal request, "refused" to furnish him copies of "affidavits, documents, and other papers submitted in its preliminary investigations" into the plunder case.
"In... denying Sen. Estrada notice of and access to the papers and filings he requested, the Office of the Ombudsman not only violated the Constitution and pertinent laws and rules, but also acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction," the petition read.
In an order dated March 27, 2014, the Ombudsman denied Estrada's plea for copies of the affidavits of Ruby Tuason and Dennis Cunanan; counter-affidavits of Gondelina Amata and Mario Relampagos; consolidated reply of public complainant National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), if one has been filed; and affidavit/counter-affidavits/pleadings/filings by the other respondents and/or additional witnesses for the complainants.
Estrada said he was "shocked" at the Ombudsman's finding of probable cause against him, not only because he is innocent of the charge, but also because it was "premised on evidence not disclosed to him to date."
"By intentionally withholding filings in its possession, including pieces of evidence it eventually used in precipitately deciding on the existence of probable cause, the Office of the Ombudsman clearly violated the right of Sen. Estrada to be apprised of the records of the case pertinent to the charges against him," the petition read.
Estrada also urged the high court to immediately issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or writ of preliminary injunction to stop the Ombudsman from further hearing the case until a decision is handed down on his petition.
Estrada's motion for reconsideration on the Ombudsman resolution remains pending with the anti-graft body.
Aside from Estrada, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla were also charged with plunder in connection with the scam. The Ombudsman also found probable cause to indict the two before the Sandiganbayan.