Estrada: Prosecution trying to prolong my Senate suspension
MANILA, Philippines – Why did the prosecution file a motion to suspend Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada only with respect to his plunder case?
For the senator's camp, the prosecution's strategy was made in bad faith. Since he is also charged with 11 counts of graft, the senator said the prosecution intends to also move for his suspension over graft after the 90-day period for his suspension over plunder lapses.
If the prosecution takes this route and each motion is granted by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, then Estrada may end up being suspended for the rest of his term as senator, which ends in 2016.
The senator wants a reversal of his court-ordered suspension, which Senate President Franklin Drilon already indicated the chamber would comply with once final.
The suspension order from the Sandiganbayan 5th division would be deemed final once it denies Estrada's motion for reconsideration.
In a motion for reconsideration filed Friday, August 1, the senator's lawyer Jose Flaminiano argued that the intention of the prosecution's piecemeal motions is to "nullify Senator Estrada's right to hold office and, also, deprive his constituents of his representation and his service."
He said the prosecution's request for the suspension is "designed to punish him and to deprive his constituents of his representation for as long as possible, which is practically equivalent to removal from office.
Public officers are suspended pending their trial not as a form of punishment, since they have yet to be convicted. The suspension is meant to prevent them from compromising the integrity of the prosecution by using their positions to influence the trial, intimidate witnesses, and commit other forms of malfeasance.
Drilon already expressed intention to comply with the court's final ruling on the matter in a July 24 compliance and manifestation submitted to the court. The document signed by the Senate President's chief of staff Renato Bantug Jr reads: "This Office hereby manifests that it would take appropriate action on the suspension order upon this Honorable Court's disposition of the motion for reconsideration."
Estrada's cases before the Sandiganbayan stems from the multi-million-peso diversion of his Priority Development Assistance Fund to ghost projects of dubious non-governmental organizations controlled by alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
In his motion for reconsideration, Estrada also accused the prosecution of forum shopping. This involves multiple actions in court seeking identical relief, with the hope that one or the other is decided in favor of the prosecution.
Estrada said his pending petitions assailing the validity of his charge sheet already seeks a determination of the same issues the prosecution raises in their move to have him suspended. – Rappler.com