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PIA Press Release
2007/09/19

Veteran lawyers say Estrada convicted due to lapses of defense lawyers

Manila (19 September) -- University of the East law school Dean Amado Valdez opined that former president Joseph Estrada was found guilty because of a fatal flaw in the defense strategy of his lawyers.

He said they appealed more to the public rather than to the court's reasoning.

"They focused on propaganda," Valdez said. "They thought the court would eventually follow what they wanted the people to believe--- that everything was just part of a big political conspiracy and Estrada was the hero being trampled on by those out to get him. But in the end, the lawyer's strategy backfired."

A veteran defense lawyer Atty. Teddy Te muses, "the strange thing for me was that they fought so hard to have the proceedings televised and yet they asked for a reading of only the "dispositive portion" (the part of the decision that contains the actual ruling of the court).

"Now that it's all over but the appeal", Atty. Te said that if Estrada really wants to go down as a hero of the masses, he should not appeal, instead serve his 40 years in prison. "It's his life, no one can tell him what to do. All of these people around him are just muddling up the situation," Te said.

Another respected lawyer Atty. Mario Ongkiko said that it was obviously a strategy on the part of Eastrada's lwayers. "They didn't want the people to see what led the court to come up with a guilty verdict."

A few parts of the lengthy 262 pages Sandiganbayan decision that were not read during the promulgation are quoted below. These are facts cited by anti-graft court that led the court to pronounce a guilty verdict against Estrada.

"The total amount of money Gov. Singson collected from Jueteng operations for FPresident Esrtada starting November 1998 to August 2000 was Five Hundred Forty Million Pesos (P540,000,000.00) more or less, according to Gov. Singson personally delivered about Two Hundred Million Pesos (P200,000,000.00) to FPres. Estrada.xxx"

"Bank officials, such as Salvador R. Serrano, Patrick Dee Cheng, and Carolina S. Guerrero, testified to the existence of checks paid by Chavit Singson which landed in the accounts of persons associated with FPres. Estrada…xxx"

"The paper trail of the P200,000,000.00 deposited for the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation, Inc. incontrovertibly established that the said sum of money came from the jueteng collection through the cashier's /managers checks purchased by (Yolanda) Ricaforte using the deposits in the accounts that she opened…xxx"

The Billions of Pesos that could have otherwise been used to pay benefits to SSS and GSIS members were diverted to buying Belle Shares to comply with FPres. Estrada's instructions in order that FPres. Estrada could receive his P187,900,000.00 commission…xxx". (PIA-Isabela) [top]

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