Wednesday, May 7, 2014
JINGGOY SEEKS FAIRNESS, IMPARTIALITY IN ONGOING PORK PROBE
MANILA-Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada seeks judicial review from the Supreme Court following the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman denying his request to be furnished with copies of the affidavits of the whistleblowers and other respondents which were used as basis for the finding of probable cause to indict him for plunder in connection to his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
In a 29-page Petition for Certiorari filed today, Sen. Estrada asks protection of his constitutional right to due process which the Ombudsman “grievously ignored, trampled upon and violated.”
Sen. Estrada lamented that the anti-graft body’s finding of probable cause was “premised on evidence not disclosed to him” and that he was effectively prevented from exercising his right to answer and to rebut the allegations made against him.
It can be recalled that Sen. Estrada filed his request last March 20 to be furnished with copies of counter-affidavits of the respondents, affidavits of new witnesses and other filings in order to “be apprised of the allegations of the other respondents and to be given notice of all the evidence presented” incident to the preliminary investigation.
Specifically, Sen. Estrada requested that he be formally furnished with the following documents: a) Affidavit of Ruby Tuason; b) Affidavit of Dennis Cunanan; c) Counter-affidavit of Gondelina Amata (President of the National Livelihood Development Corp.); d) Counter-affidavit of Mario Relampagos (Undersecretary for Operations of the Department of Budget and Management); e) Consolidated reply of the NBI; f) Affidavit/counter-affidavits/pleadings/filings filed by other respondents and/or additional witnesses for the complainants.
In an order dated March 27, 2014, the Ombudsman flatly denied the request, declaring that there was supposedly no requirement that Sen. Estrada be provided copies of the aforementioned documents.
Sen. Estrada said that the Ombudsman violated its own Rules of Procedure in refusing to furnish copies of affidavits and other filings that touch upon the charges upon him.
The Rules of Procedure of the Ombudsman expressly and unequivocally grant any person charged before it the right to access to the records of the preliminary investigation.
In his petition, Sen. Estrada also cited a Supreme Court ruling upholding the right of the person under investigation by the Ombudsman to be furnished not only the evidence presented by the complainant, but also those presented by co-respondents that are material to the charge against him.
The act of the Ombudsman is “not just a procedural misstep but is tantamount to an absolute refusal to perform a positive duty imposed by law and constitutes grave abuse of discretion,” the petition reads.
“By intentionally withholding filings in its possession, including pieces of evidence it eventually used in precipitately deciding on the existence of probable cause, Ombudsman violated the right of Sen. Estrada to be apprised of the records of the case pertinent to the charges against him,” the petition further states.
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