Full text of Sandiganbayan decision on Erap case available for download from Internet
by Rachelle Nessia
Dumaguete City (21 September) -- The public can now read the full text of the Sandiganbayan's decision on the plunder and perjury case of former president Joseph Estrada after it has been made available for download at sandigan.supremecourt.gov.ph.
The full text of the decision comes to 262 pages.
During the promulgation of the court's decision finding the former president guilty of plunder, only the dispositive portion (the part of the decision that contains the actual ruling of the court) was read during the televised promulgation.
Veteran defense lawyer Teddy Te, in the aftermath of the promulgation, said, "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."
Respected lawyer Mario Ongkiko offered the opinion that it was obviously a strategy on the part of Estrada's lawyers. "They didn't want the people to see what led the court to come up with a guilty verdict," he said.
However, Estrada's family, friends and political allies refuse to accept the Sandiganbayan's decision. In a recent rally in Makati, supporters of the former president claimed that Estrada was allegedly convicted with haste and the decision was not based upon law and convincing evidences.
University of the East law school Dean Amado Valdez believes that Estrada was found guilty because of fatal flaw in the strategy of the defense. He said they appealed more to the public than to the court's reasoning.
The first team-up of the government and private prosecutors in the plunder case against former Pres. Estrada proved to be a success with the Sandiganbayan's guilty verdict.
"The government was given invaluable assistance by the private prosecutors and that really made the difference," said former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo when asked about his reaction on the government's success in the Erap case.
A few parts of the lengthy decision that were not read during the promulgation are quoted below, facts that, according to the Sandiganbayan, were proven during the course of the trial and that led the court to pronounce a guilty verdict against Estrada:
"The total amount of money Gov. Singson collected from jueteng operations for former President Estrada starting November 1998 to August 2000 was Five Hundred Forty Million Pesos (P540,000,000.00) more or less, according to Gov. Singson. 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 jueteng collections 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) [top]