By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The start of the plunder trial of former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada has been moved by the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division to August 5, pending the resolution of his motion for reconsideration.
The trial of Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles was supposed to begin on Monday (July 8) morning, but the anti-graft court decided to reset it to August 5 because it has yet to resolve their separate motions for reconsideration.
Their motions were for the reconsideration of the denial of their demurrers to evidence, which they were insisting should be approved due to the reported insufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence.
Their demurrers to evidence were already denied on June 13. Estrada tried to reason that the element of “amassing, accumulation of ill-gotten wealth,” which is the gravamen of plunder, was lacking in his case.
Napoles, on the other hand, poked holes at the fact that there was no main plunderer identified by the prosecution. She added that she could not be the main plunderer since she was not a public official.
Both Estrada and Napoles also questioned the integrity of the prosecution witnesses, particularly whistleblower Benhur Luy.
As of now, the Sandiganbayan has yet to resolve their motions for reconsideration.
Estrada, Napoles, his Deputy Chief of Staff Pauline Therese Mary C. Labayen, and John Raymund De Asis were slapped with a violation of Section 2 of R.A. 7080, otherwise known as plunder, because they reportedly pocketed P183,793,750 from Estrada’s priority development assistance fund (PDAF) by endorsing Napoles’ fake non-government organizations (NGOs) back in 2004.