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PIA Press Release

Verdict on Estrada should have been read for the public to know, lawyers say

Manila (20 September) -- Lawyers privy to the recently concluded Sandiganbayan decision charging former President Joseph Estrada guilty of plunder have dismissed claims of his supporters that the decision was done with haste and not based upon law and convincing evidence.

This developed as Estrada's lawyers made a motion that only the dispositive portion of the decision was read during the televised event.

"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," veteran defense lawyer Teddy Te said.

Respected lawyer Mario Ongkiko also gave his opinion that Estrada's lawyers did not want the people to see what led the court to come up with a guilty verdict.

Ongkiko, reacting to the claim of the opposition and supporters of former President Estrada that the Sandiganbayan special division that decided the case was created solely to convict him also said, "It was the Supreme Court that created the Sandiganbayan special division."

A few parts of the 262-page decision which were not read during the promulgation and are actually facts that were proven during the course of the trial and led the court to pronounce a guilty verdict against Estrada were: "the total amount of money Gov. Singson collected from Jueteng operations for FPresident Estrada starting November 1998 to August 2000 was P54,000,000.00 more or less, according to Gov. Singson, gov. Singson personally delivered about P200,000.000.00 to FPres. Estrada,xxx"

It also said that, "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 decision added, "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 jueteng collections through the cashier's/manager's chacks purchased by (Yolanda) Ricaforte using the deposits in the accounts that she opened…xxx"

Another part of the pertinent decision reads, "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 NVizcaya) [top]

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