MANILA — Now it’s Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s time this coming Monday to be arraigned to tell the anti-graft court if he admits that he pocketed Php 183.7 million in government funds using his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that fell into the hands of bogus non-governmental organization owned by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Together with Estrada, alleged pork scam architect Janet Lim Napoles will again face Sandiganbayan Fifth Division for a scheduled arraignment.
Last Friday, the same court warned that the senator would be released if the prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman insist on amending the information.
This is the second time that the Ombudsman’s motion in submitting amended information was denied by the anti-graft court.
Fifth Division chairman Associate Justice Roland Jurado told prosecutors that amending the complaint against Estrada would lead to his release since the senator’s arrest order was based on the original information filed.
“It’s up to you. Take note, if there is no arraignment you can amend the information as a matter of right. I’m just warning you of the effect of that information, the accused will be released,” Jurado was quoted as saying.
The original information reads, that the senator and his chief-of-staff “committing the offense in relation to their respective offices, conspiring with one another and with Janet Lim Napoles.”
Suspicion that prosecutors may have committed a fatal mistake in rushing the filing of the charges arose after foiled moves against Estrada and Revilla were rejected.
Aside from Estrada and Napoles, his co-accused includes John Raymund de Asis and his appointment secretary Pauline Labayen.
The Sandiganbayan is still deliberating on Estrada’s petition to be allowed to post bail. The prosecution is yet to file its comment to the senator’s bail petition.