Sunday, February 22, 2015
MANILA-“HAS [SEN. ESTRADA] BEEN FUNDAMENTALLY DEPRIVED OF HIS OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD BEFORE BEING DETAINED?”
Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada raised this overarching question before the Supreme Court as the paramount issue behind the filing of a motion for reconsideration.
In a 24-page motion, Sen. Estrada’s camp questioned the January 21 decision of the Supreme Court which merely focused on the procedural prescription instead of the more important substantive aspect of the due process of law.
Jinggoy insisted that he was never given ample opportunity by the Ombudsman to be heard, as he was not given copies of the documents, much more the chance to answer and refute the allegations, which were used as bases to indict him before the Sandiganbayan.
At least 2 SC magistrates in their separate opinions stated that there was grave violation on the part of the Ombudsman for failing to observe due process during its preliminary investigation on the case.
It can be recalled that the SC earlier denied Estrada’s petition to nullify the Ombudsman order finding probable cause against him and the subsequent proceedings thereof as it cited rules which do not require the Ombudsman and the investigating officer from furnishing copies of counter-affidavits of other respondents of the case. (Ombudsman maintained that they are only required to furnish Estrada copies of the affidavits of the complainants.)
“The constitutional protection of due process is not at all limited to what the Rules on preliminary investigations provide nor to the interpretation of said Rules by the Honorable Court,” part of the petition read.
Estrada’s counsel further emphasized that “the right to due process is constitutional and cannot be limited to what the rules and statutes provide.”
Defense lawyers maintained that Estrada’s case is different from the previous cases relied on and cited in the court decision as the present case involves prosecution for plunder which is a non-bailable offense and instantly deprives one of his liberty.
Moreover, Estrada’s camp submitted that the issue of due process should not be defined in terms of purposes of preliminary investigation as its rules apply generally to cases which do not call for immediate incarceration.
“In determining the requirements of due process for plunder, the issue should be defined in terms of the purposes of the ‘due process’ clause of the Constitution, including the substantive aspect of the phrase which ‘embeds the social value of fairness…’ With regard to the substantive value of ‘fairness,’ or ‘the sporting idea of fair play,’ which is the central idea of the due process clause, this should be the method used to determine what process is due,” the motion stressed.