By CZARINA NICOLE O. ONG
The prosecution handling the plunder case of former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada is refusing to give up even after Estrada walked out of his detention cell in Camp Crame, Quezon City, last Saturday.
Director Ma. Christina Marallag-Batacan of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) said yesterday that they will file a motion for reconsideration (MR) before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division because they have “good grounds” that will hopefully reverse his grant of bail.
This, after the first day of Estrada’s plunder trial was cancelled yesterday morning because Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz called in sick and no replacement was found to continue with quorum.
During an interview with reporters, Estrada denied receiving any special treatment from the Sandiganbayan because of his recent release.
“Ang balito ko dito sa Sandiganbayan, may lagi justice on duty every Saturday, so kahit sino naman pwede mag post ng bail,” he said.
He also denied having any knowledge of being utilized as a witness in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), even after Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said so.
“Wala akong alam doon. I haven’t heard anything, nobody has talked to me about it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Janet Lim Napoles’ lawyer, Atty. Dennis Buenaventura, also revealed yesterday that Napoles will follow Estrada’s suit and seek bail as well.
Napoles, who owned the fake NGOs non-government organizations (NGOs) where the PDAF funds were pooled, faces multiple plunder charges together with Estrada and other ex-Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile. She has been tagged as the mastermind and “main plunderer” behind the controversial PDAF scam.
Buenaventura said Estrada’s release is “favorable” to them, because it only supports their earlier argument that “the nature of the Information [against her] doesn’t really amount to plunder.”
He added that they are banking on the “factual argument” that the crime of plunder requires the heavy involvement not of a private person, but of a public official.
“The main plunderer cannot be a private person. It should be a public officer. This is something else, very different from plunder,” he stressed.