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FAQs about the Plunder CASE NO. 26558

FAQs about the Plunder CASE NO. 26558

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
SANDIGANBAYAN
QUEZON CITY

SPECIAL DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff,

– versus – CRIMINAL CASE NO. 26558
FOR: Plunder
JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA,
JOSE “JINGGOY” ESTRADA, ET AL.,
Accused.
x—————————————x

MEMORANDUM FOR THE ACCUSED
PRES. ESTRADA
———————————-

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Subject Page

1. Prefatory Note ———————————————————————————– 5

2. Introduction ————————————————————————————- 20

— The law violated, R.A. 7080; the elements of the offense of plunder ——————-24

— The acts imputed to accused do not constitute plunder,

apart from obvious inadequacy of proof ———————————————— 41

3. Statement of the Case ————————————————————————– 63

4. Statement of Facts

— Alleged jueteng pay-offs ———————————————————————– 78

— The Prosecution’s evidence ——————————————————————- 80

— Defendant’s evidence ————————————————————————– 92

5. Discussion – Jueteng Bribery —————————————————————- 114

— Principal witness Singson had strong motive to get back at Pres. Estrada ———- 114

— Testimony of Singson comes from a polluted source, as Singson himself

has confessed to covering up his crimes———————————————— 119

— ‘Ledgers’ relied on by Singson are hearsay ———————————————– 124

— No evidence was presented that accused protected or tolerated jueteng  ———- 126

— Foundation was a legitimate educational foundation

aimed to assist Muslim youth ———————————————————— 128

— Singson’s testimony replete with Inconsistencies and lies —————————– 130

— No independent corroborating evidence to Singson’s testimony ——————— 142

6. Statement of Facts

— Misappropriation of R.A. 7171 funds ——————————————————- 145

— The Prosecution’s evidence —————————————————————— 146

— Defendant’s evidence ————————————————————————- 148

7. Discussion – Misappropriation of R.A. 7171 funds ————————————– 157

— Testimony of Gov. Singson on withdrawal and delivery of money

patently incredible ————————————————————————- 157

— The prosecution’s remaining evidence reveal Chavit Singson’s complicity

in the withdrawal of the tobacco excise tax funds, nothing more —————– 163

— The minor prosecution witnesses do not prove the guilt of Pres. Estrada

beyond reasonable doubt —————————————————————– 179

8. Statement of Facts – Sale of Belle Shares Commission ———————————– 182

— Evidence for the Prosecution —————————————————————- 184

— Evidence for the Defense ———————————————————————- 190

9. Discussion on Belle Shares Commission

— Transaction was perfectly valid and legal,

and no commission was given to Accused ———————————————- 194

— SSS purchase of Belle shares valid and regular ——————————————– 196

— Likewise, GSIS purchase was made in accordance

with investment policy and rules ——————————————————— 203

— No evidence that accused ever received any percentage or commission

from sale of Belle shares ——————————————————————– 218

10. Statement of Facts – The ‘Jose Velarde’ Account —————————————- 231

— Inadequacy of the allegations —————————————————————- 231

— Evidence for the Prosecution —————————————————————– 233

— Evidence for the Defense ———————————————————————– 236

11. Discussion – ‘Velarde’ Account ————————————————————– 241

— There are missing elements in the Prosecution evidence which cannot be supplied

by unreasonable inferences —————————————————————- 244

— Accused Joseph Estrada cannot be linked to Jose Velarde account ——————- 249

— True owner of Velarde account positively identified as Dichaves ———————- 256

— Inference that Ortaliza deposited for accused Estrada is based on conjecture ——  258

— Court cannot assume that the J. V. Ejercito account

belongs to accused Joseph Estrada ——————————————————- 260

12. Conclusion ————————————————————————————– 267

13. Prayer ——————————————————————————————– 278

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
SANDIGANBAYAN
QUEZON CITY

SPECIAL DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff,

– versus – CRIMINAL CASE NO. 26558
FOR: Plunder
JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA,
JOSE “JINGGOY” ESTRADA, ET AL.,
Accused.
x—————————————x

MEMORANDUM FOR THE ACCUSED
PRES. ESTRADA
———————————-

ACCUSED Joseph Ejercito Estrada, through the undersigned counsel, in compliance with the Order of the Honorable Court dated April 19, 2007, respectfully files his Memorandum.

PREFATORY NOTE

This historic proceeding may be said to have had its genesis in January 2000, culminating a year later in the unconstitutional ouster of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. The naked power grab had been a year in the making. There was nothing spontaneous about the combustion at all.

Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, while serving in his Cabinet as DSWD Secretary, behind his back, started to plot with the generals, among others, to oust a President who may be the only one in our history to win as such, cleanly and clearly, without American support.

But, in the process, he made powerful enemies, collectively called “the civil society,” among others, mainly coming from the elite who had never accepted him or the masses who have supported and never abandoned him.

On February 20, 2001, a month after the takeover, quite incredibly, Mrs. Arroyo very publicly thanked those who had plotted with her for a year to seize power. She and her husband, Atty. Miguel Arroyo, were so committed they were even ready to kill anyone who would stand in the way of their plan.

And then, at dawn of January 20, 2001, Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. – who had sadly failed as Impeachment Court Presiding Officer to assert its authority, to maintain order and to cite for contempt the prosecutors who had walked out after losing a vote – cutting and relying on the Bible and interpreted a passage which to him meant that he would have to swear in Mrs. Arroyo as “acting president” at noon.

He was prodded in this by Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, another dawn Bible reader, who, like the Arroyos could not wait for a later time to write his memoirs. Later that morning, the rest of the Justices concurred. 42 days later they ruled that President Estrada resigned in the afternoon of January 20, 2001 creating a vacancy that was filled hours earlier, at noon. This “constructive resignation” theory was at variance with their decision early that morning to swear her in at noon of January 20, 2001, even if President Estrada would still be in Malacañang. He was naturally shocked to learn that he resigned since he had thought he had just gone on leave due to temporary incapacity, under Section 11 of Article VII of the Constitution.

Chief Justice Davide told the nation early that morning that he was on his way to EDSA to swear in Mrs. Arroyo as “acting president,” which she echoed in the first sentence right after the oath-taking. Along the way, “acting” disappeared, for otherwise that would have meant that President Estrada, who would have been only on leave, had immunity from suit and could not have been charged in 2001.

What is the role of the judiciary in our national life? It is supposed to be static, not dynamic, if only because later it may otherwise be asked to judge what it did, as happened here, after it had thrown its weight on one side.

That morning of January 20, 2001, Mrs. Arroyo wrote to the Supreme Court declaring President Estrada as unable to discharge the duties of his office, a role the Constitution does not confer on a vice-president given the obvious conflict-of-interest. Only a president or a majority of all the members of the Cabinet may make such a declaration, not the vice-president who should not have to act in a self-serving way. Indeed, the Supreme Court is not supposed to take the initiative, but just wait in Padre Faura, and not engage in politics and decide at Edsa, and take sides, as that would leave the aggrieved no one to turn to for relief.

Justice Panganiban’s tell-all book of 2002 revealed in excessive candor and scandalous detail that indeed, at dawn the magistrates agreed to depose President Estrada at noon and they all went to Edsa (save two who were not in Manila but telephoned in their concurrence and later spread upon the record their reservations).

There had been a flurry of communications between the Supreme Court and the command post of Mrs. Arroyo, including the House of Sin, where the Cardinal, with his well-known animus towards President Estrada, held court. In the end, according to Justice Panganiban, Mrs. Arroyo heeded the command of the man of the cloth to take her oath. In this, she was gently supported by President Corazon C. Aquino, who has since realized her folly.

The only one not sought out and heard from was President Estrada. Even an ordinary employee is entitled to two notices before being dismissed. But 10,722,295 voters picked and employed him to be our No. 1. Their mandate was treated as nothing.

Ousted unceremoniously, President Estrada went to the Court of last resort.

On February 15, 2001, the date set for oral argument by the Supreme Court, we petitioned to recuse Chief Justice Davide and Justice Panganiban, given their prominent role on stage at Edsa on January 20, 2001, compromising themselves. (They gamely did but strangely enough stayed during the oral argument of several hours.) What we did not know that morning, as counsel for the deposed President, was that the other Justices, who had less prominent presence at Edsa, given the number of people on stage, were also there to implement their decision to install Mrs. Arroyo.

Had we known such collective presence and their earlier collegiate decision, we might have begged leave to cut short the proceedings. We had no inkling that in solemnly adjudging the so-called Legitimacy Cases, they were in fact judging their own cause, what they themselves had sponsored and made possible.

It took Justice Panganiban’s book to make us realize our blunder in even arguing almost naively before a Court whose act it was we had questioned and which could not have admitted its mistake in entering a political thicket, creating deep divisions that have yet to heal.

The principal accused was ousted because of the allegations of graft against him by former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, so went the popular superstition. The grizzled northern Luzon warlord first made the allegations of illegal gambling payoffs and other acts of corruption in an exposé on October 4, 2000 following a supposed attempt on his life. This slay try was totally disproved and discredited by professional police officers who caught his driver driving through a red light, nothing more, nothing less. A routine traffic violation and a chase that ended near the Western Police District headquarters where the infraction was treated as such.

No wonder the prosecution did not bother to rebut this powerful convincing and documented disclaimer; evidence unrebutted is deemed conclusive.

On November 13, 2001, the House of Representatives, without any debate and voting which comprise the heart of the function of a democratic deliberative assembly, started the process that nullified the will of 10,722,295 voters who voted for President Estrada in 1998. Contrast this with the Clinton impeachment episode where all concerned were heard and each historic vote tallied.

Impeached without due process, without being heard by the House, President Estrada’s case was sent up to the Senate, where he thought he would have his day in the Impeachment Court. Quietly, he bore the slings and arrows of outrageous machination and manipulation, trusting still in the system, representing the triumph of hope over experience.

He duly and humbly submitted himself to the constitutional process. And in the same manner that he did not call out the troops to stop marches and demonstrations, he did not interfere in the process there, either.

But, the impeachment trial was never concluded. The prosecution, losing in a narrow ruling, walked out on the issue of “the second envelope” supposedly containing criminatory details of the controversial Jose Velarde account (it did not, as exposed in the trial here).

The walkout erupted into the so-called EDSA Dos that resulted in the military’s withdrawal of support which ousted President Estrada and installed Mrs. Arroyo as “acting” president, later revised and upgraded into “permanent” president, for reasons unclear to this day.

Revered Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma, who had wanted to ask the Chief Justice what the legal basis was of his announcement that he would administer the oath to Mrs. Arroyo, was ignored that morning of January 20, 2001. She urged that the Impeachment Court be reconvened, again, in vain.

Offered more than once in January and February 2001 to leave the jurisdiction by Ms. Arroyo through Mr. Hernani Perez, President Estrada refused, turning down virtual immunity in exile. He was born here, lived here, and would die here, he said. He still had hoped the Supreme Court would give him a fair hearing, not knowing that its members were complicit in varying degrees in his ouster, and beyond.

Meantime, the preliminary investigation moved with the speed of lightning. The resolution of the Supreme Court denying our motion for reconsideration was issued on April 3, 2001. Eight cases were filed in quick order. Judicial notice may be taken of how even minor cases require months before resolution.

Despite President Estrada’s clear intention to abide by the rule of law “PNP Chief, Director-General Leandro Mendoza told reporters he would personally serve the warrant against Estrada,” this despite the legal team’s advice that he would immediately surrender voluntarily once a warrant issued. Mendoza, who started plotting in early 2000, wanted to milk the occasion to the end. It could have been arranged for the President to come to this Honorable Court but he had to be humiliated, mugged and fingerprinted in Camp Crame for all the world to see.

Thus, exploded the bloody May Day violence which left people dead, scores wounded and hundreds arrested, not one being prominent and the masa once more understood the short and simple annals of the poor.

Thus, “[i]n a remarkable departure from normal practice, the Supreme Court formed a special division of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to try Estrada.”

We have to go back to the World War II era to recall a special court customized to try an individual. But, President Estrada did not commit any crimes against humanity. No special division has been created to try the Marcoses or the cronies who had been exiled and disgraced, or General Carlos Garcia for that matter, and whose pending cases are not being tried twice a week either. The “most unkindest cut of all” was that it was even made to appear that it was the accused President Estrada who had asked for the creation of a special tribunal to try him. That was simply not true, but the Supreme Court seemed to have misunderstood a request that came from elsewhere, but certainly, not the accused.

After all, the principal accused, going on 71, is now on his seventh year of detention and the damage to the rule of law in his impeachment trial and removal, let alone this aberrational proceeding, continues.

Justice Frank Murphy, despite having been the last American Governor General here, dissented in the case of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, whose conviction was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. He said:

The high feelings of the moment doubtless will be satisfied. But in the sober afterglow will come the realization of the boundless and dangerous implications of the procedure sanctioned today.

In 2001, the zeitgeist was compatible with why foreign observers saw what happened as mobocracy. Where there was praise universal in 1986 when a dictator without a mandate was ousted, they looked askance at how one who was elected into office by 10,722,295 voters could be ousted by some generals and a mob that was quite small compared to the masa who gathered at Edsa in May, 2001, an event that was all but ignored or shunned by the elite and the military, and even the press.

It is time to go back to the rule of law and finally give President Estrada what has since been denied him for six years, and counting.

It is in this spirit that we file this memorandum, that truth and justice and the rule of law will finally prevail. In 2001 and 2004, two Estradas ran and won as Senators, a vindication by the sovereign people, no less.

In 2007, Chavit Singson ran for the same position and the people told him what it thought of him (and maybe his ancestors). History is in the making and what will be done in this case will be reviewed by his history for affirmance, modification or reversal. Meantime, the principal accused enjoys the trust of our people on the same level of confidence in President Corazon Aquino.

The people are the highest jury.

Lynched in the House, Senate and the streets, he earnestly hopes and prays to get vindication here, at long last, after more than six years. He did not get justice in the Supreme Court either, which not only prejudged his ouster, but helped make it happen, with all due respect.

Denied justice there and earlier in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the streets, we have no choice but to submit now to this Special Division.

We are thankful for the oral argument on June 15, 2007.

Judicial notice may be taken of the fact that the legitimacy issue of 2001 was, far from being put behind us, only exacerbated in 2004, and continues to date. We leave the accused’s fate in the hands of this Honorable Court, and the judgment of a just God, but a final word or two.

Recent developments disturb us, such as the incident involving Mr. Atong Ang, who pled to an extremely defective Information when obviously, the correct praxis is to amend the indictment first. We appreciate the quick actions on our motions for visitations and hospitalizations, even if tightly restricted, but we deplore the late release of the resolution of the press access issue, disabling us from going to the Supreme Court.

The supposed will of the people against President Estrada supposedly determined his fate in 2001 (even if in fact the plot took one year to implement, with the final blow delivered by the Supreme Court, using newspaper reports). The message of the people in 2004 and 2007 should not go unheeded if favorable to him. That would only be fair and approximate the desideratum of a level playing field, to which we are all committed, as in duty bound.

INTRODUCTION

The Constitution provides that in all criminal prosecutions, “the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.” Every element of the offense must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The accused may remain silent. He need not offer evidence in his defense. If the prosecution fails to prove any element of the offense beyond reasonable doubt, the accused shall be acquitted. Where the offense is serious (here, “plunder”) and the penalty severe (here, life imprisonment ), the standard of proof required to be met can not be “diluted.” The court must be convinced of the guilt of the accused with “utmost certainty.”

The Supreme Court thus ruled:

We find merit in the appeal and do not hesitate to acquit the accused for the sheer failure of the prosecution to present evidence that would establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

x x x We note at the same time, to Our dismay, the failure of the trial court to accord with profound reverence the solemn mandate of the Constitution that an accused is presumed innocent until the contrary is proven* and to remain faithful to the firmly settled doctrine that in order to overcome said
presumption, nothing but proof beyond reasonable doubt must be established by the prosecution.* x x x

x x x x x x x xx

x x x Moreover, use of the reasonable doubt standard is indispensable to command the respect and confidence of the community in applications of the criminal law. It is critical that the moral force of the criminal law not be diluted by a standard of proof that leaves people in doubt whether innocent men are being condemned.* It is also important in our free society that every individual going about his ordinary affairs have confidence that his government cannot adjudge him guilty of a criminal offense without convincing a proper factfinder of his guilt with utmost certainty.

People vs. Garcia, 215 SCRA 349
[1992], at pp. 359-360)

Offenses may only be created by statutory law. There are no common law crimes. The judiciary may not create a crime.

And where there is a statute, it is to be construed strictly against the state and liberally in favor of the accused. This is to insure “fair notice” of prohibited conduct. Any doubt or ambiguity in determining the objective and culpability elements of the offense must be resolved in favor of the accused. No word, phrase or clause defining the elements of the offense may be dispensed with.

Because of the circumstances which brought about the charges against the accused, elsewhere described, the burden of proof of the prosecution is heavier. For the institution of the charges were not so much motivated to penalize the commission of an “heinous” crime but to justify the undoing of the people’s mandate to have the accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada as President of the Philippines from July 1, 1998 to June 30, 2004. The regularity of the official proceedings, the objectivity and fairness of government prosecutors in the discharge of their duties, and the credibility and honesty of witnesses can hardly be presumed. It would be an understatement to characterize the proceedings and the witnesses who gave testimony against him, as “suspect.” The bar that the prosecution must overcome to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed “plunder” is indeed formidable.

The law violated – – R.A. No. 7080; the elements of the offense of Plunder. –

The accusation is for the crime of “plunder” defined and penalized under Republic Act No. 7080.

Like other statutes drafted ad hoc, “in response to one highly publicized incident or one anti-crime crusade after another,” it does not conform to the traditional single definitional scheme “based on the central elements of the offense: the nature of the interest injured, the extent of the injury and the culpability of the offender.” Its structure is unique in itself. In a challenge to its constitutionality for being vague or overbroad, four (4) members of the Supreme Court voted to sustain the challenge. Extensive reference to the deliberation in Congress, including its Conference Committee, had to be made to clarify the meaning of words and clauses in the statute which define the elements of the offense.

The portions of R.A. 7080 which define the offense, read as follows:

SECTION 1. Definition of Terms. ? As used in this Act, the term ?

x x x x x x x x x

d) Ill-gotten wealth means any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession* of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or indirectly* through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes:*

1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury;*

2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or project or by reason* of the office or position of the public officer concerned.

3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government* or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or government-owned or –controlled corporations and their subsidiaries;

4) By obtaining, receiving* or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation* including promise of future employment in any business enterprise or undertaking;

5) By establishing* agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations* and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests;* or

6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.*

SECTION 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties. ? Any public officer who, by himself* or in connivance* with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts* as described in Section 1(d) hereof, in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Seventy-five million pesos (P75,000,000.00), shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by life imprisonment with perpetual absolute disqualification from holding any public office. Any person who participated with said public officer in the commission of plunder shall likewise be punished. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances* shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stock derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State.

x x x x x x x x x

SECTION 4. Rule of Evidence.* ? For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to
establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.*

The elements of an offense generally include the following:

1. An offense has been committed where an actor has satisfied all elements contained in the definition of the offense. The elements of an offense are of two sorts: objective criteria* (actus reus elements) and culpability requirements* (including primarily mens rea* elements).

2. The objective elements* of an offense may include the conduct of the actor (or other persons), the circumstances under which the conduct takes place, and the results stemming from the conduct.*

3. Every offense must contain at least one objective element consisting of the conduct of the actor.* (This is termed the “act requirement.”)

4. The mental or culpability elements* of an offense may be purpose (or intention), knowledge, recklessness, negligence, or lack of culpability, with regard to engaging in the conduct, causing the result, or being aware of the circumstances specified as the objective elements. (One may prefer that negligent and strict liability be avoided, but as long as they are permitted in practice one cannot devise rules of structure that prohibit them.

5. Every objective element must have a corresponding culpability element and that level of culpability may be different for each of the objective elements of the same offense.

A sixth rule, though not explicitly stated by the Model Penal Code, may be added:

6. A culpability element may be required without a corresponding objective element. This is often termed a “specific intent,” although it might better be called an “ulterior intent.” For example, assault with intent to rape has the mental element of “intent to rape” but no corresponding objective element of rape.

Unfortunately, unlike the offenses found in the Revised Penal Code, the elements of the offense of “plunder” as defined under Republic Act No. 7080 are not as easily identified. Justice Holmes has suggested the following rule in interpreting the definition of an offense under a law.

Although it is not likely that a criminal will carefully consider the text of the law before he murders or steals, it is reasonable that a fair warning should be given to the world in language that the common world will understand, of what the law intends to do if a certain line is passed.* To make the warning fair, so far as possible the line should be clear.* When a rule of conduct is laid down in words that evoke in the common mind only the picture of vehicles moving on land, the statute should not be extended to aircraft, simply because it may seem to us that a similar policy applies, or upon the speculation that, if the legislature had thought of it, very likely broader words would have been used. United States v. Thind. 261 U.S. 204, 209

(McBoyle v. United States, 283 U.S. 25;
51 S. Ct. 340; 75 L. Ed. 816 [1931])

It should be hardly arguable that records of the deliberations on a bill in Congress, more so in committee, can be regarded as part of the “fair warning” given to the “common world” of the prohibited conduct. The “fair warning” can only come from the language of the law as published – not from records – only to be found in the archives of the legislature.

The elements of the offense of plunder – including the “act requirement,” i.e. the acts required to be committed – are not in a single provision. While Section 2 is entitled “Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties,” the provision does not define the offense fully. The “overt or criminal acts” which are elements of the offense are to be found in Section 1(d). And while Section 4 is entitled “Rule of Evidence,” suggesting that it is no different from what the rules of evidence provide, it is indicative of elements, including objective elements of the offense, as defined in Section 2 and Section 1(d). The structure of the definition, its phraseology and the words used, do not allow it for the “common world” to have an understanding of the elements of the offense. The rule of strict construction will need to play a vital role.

What then are the elements of “plunder” as defined in Republic Act No. 7080? As best as we are able, how the “common world” will understand R.A. No. 7080, the elements of the offense are the following:

a. The offender must be a public officer as defined in Section 1(a).

Note: This is clear enough. No dispute may arise as to the element. That this element is met is conceded.

b. He amasses, accumulates or acquires “ill-gotten wealth.”

Note: These are the principal “act” requirements. The accused must “amass, accumulate, or acquire” the wealth. Mere showing that the accused has “wealth” does not meet this requirement. The objective “act” requirements of the offense are the acts of “amassing, accumulating or acquiring” the wealth.

Webster defines these words as follows:

Acquire
acquired
acquiring

1 : to get* as one’s own: a : to come into possession or control* of often by unspecified means b : to come to have as a new or added characteristic, trait, or ability (as by sustained effort or natural selection) acquire fluency in French>
2 : to locate and hold (a desired object) in a detector

accumulate
: to gather or pile up* especially little by little* : AMASS : to increase gradually in quantity or number

Amasses
1 : to collect* for oneself : ACCUMULATE 2 : to collect into a mass : GATHER intransitive verb: to come together: ASSEMBLE

In the context of their use in R.A. No. 7080, taking account especially the “mens rea” requirement, the accused must be shown to have committed the acts of acquisition, i.e., to “get,” to “gather,” to “collect,” deliberately and intentionally.

c. He amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth “through a combination or series” of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof.

Note: It will not suffice that the accused committed acts* of “amassing, accumulation or acquisition” of the wealth; Section 2 requires as an element of the offense that these acts* (of “amassing, accumulation or acquisition”) constitute a “combination or series” or “similar scheme”* of overt or criminal acts described in Section 1(d). There may not only be a single act (of those enumerated in Section 1(d); no matter how many, the acts must constitute “a combination or series,” or “similar schemes”* and as provided in Section 4, a “pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.”* The commission of the acts of “amassing, accumulation or acquisition” which are described in Section 1(d) may not be committed ad hoc, separate and distinct of each other, but must have a linkage or connection sufficient to regard them as a “combination or series” and a “pattern . . . indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.”* The mens rea requirement implicitly demands “deliberateness” and an “overall” planning evident in a “pattern” or “scheme or conspiracy” of acts.

d. The “overt or criminal acts” which constitute a “combination or series” or “similar scheme,” through which he amasses, accumulates or acquires wealth, are those, and limited to those only, defined in Section 1(d), as follows:

x x x any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes:*

1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury;*

2) By receiving,* directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or project or by reason* of the office or position of the public officer concerned.

3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government* or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or government-owned or –controlled corpora-tions and their subsidiaries;

4) By obtaining, receiving* or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation* including promise of future employment in any business enterprise or undertaking;

5) By establishing* agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations* and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests;* or

6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.*

Note: The commission of more than one of the acts enumerated which results in the amassing, accumulation or acquisition of at least P75 million of property does not constitute plunder unless committed in “combination” with each other or as a “series” or as a “scheme.” More than one act does not necessarily make a “combination,” or a “series,” or a “scheme,” or a “pattern . . . indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.”

e. The ill-gotten wealth he amasses, accumulates or acquires through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) is “in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00).”

The “amassing, accumulation or acquisition” of wealth with a total value of at least P50 million, on one or more occasions, through the commission of any of the acts enumerated in Section 1(d), e.g. malversation or bribery, is not plunder. The acts committed, through which the wealth is amassed, accumulated or acquired must constitute a “combination or series” or “similar scheme” or a “pattern . . . indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.”

Otherwise stated, should the amassing, accumulation and acquisition of wealth be done through “ANY” of the acts or means enumerated in Section 1(d), not constituting a “combination or a series, or similar schemes,” or a “pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy,” the offense of plunder is not committed.

This is vital and critical.

For what distinguishes plunder, as defined and penalized under R.A. 7080, is that the amassing, accumulation and acquisition of “wealth” is through a “combination or series of overt or criminal acts” as described in Section 1(d), not by “ANY” of the criminal acts described therein. What R.A. 7080 requires is that such means, when used to amass, accumulate and acquire wealth, must constitute a “combination” or a “series,” or a “pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.”

The requirement that the means through which wealth is amassed, accumulated or acquired, enumerated in Section 1(d), constitute a “combination” or “series” of overt of criminal acts, as explicitly required in Section 2, or as explicitly stated in Section 4, that the acts done to amass, accumulate or acquire wealth constitute a “pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy” is an indispensable element of the offense.

Thus, absent a showing, beyond reasonable doubt, that the specific acts imputed to the accused in the “Amended Information,” as follows:

(a) by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on SEVERAL INSTANCES, MONEY IN THE AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS (P545,000,000.00), MORE OR LESS, FROM ILLEGAL GAMBLING IN THE FORM OF GIFT, SHARE, PERCENTAGE, KICKBACK OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFIT, BY HIMSELF AND/OR in connivance with co-accused CHARLIE ‘ATONG’ ANG, Jose ‘Jinggoy” Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, AND JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in consideration OF TOLERATION OR PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL GAMBLING;

(b) by DIVERTING, RECEIVING, misappropriating, converting OR misusing DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, for HIS OR THEIR PERSONAL gain and benefit, public funds in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS [P130,000,000.00], more or less, representing a portion of the TWO HUNDRED MILLION PESOS [P200,000,000.00] tobacco excise tax share allocated for the Province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, BY HIMSELF AND OR in CONNIVANCE with co-accused Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan OR Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, and Jane Does a.k.a. Delia Rajas, AND OTHER JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES;

(c) by directing, ordering and compelling, FOR HIS PERSONAL GAIN AND BENEFIT, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) TO PURCHASE, 351,878,000 SHARES OF STOCKS, MORE OR LESS, and the Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 SHARES OF STOCK, MORE OR LESS, OF THE BELLE CORPORATION IN THE AMOUNT OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION ONE HUNDRED TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS [P1,102,965,607.50] AND MORE OR LESS SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY-FOUR MILLION SIX HUNDRED TWELVE THOUSAND AND FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (P744,612,450.00), RESPECTIVELY, OR A TOTAL OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (P1,847,578,057.50); AND BY COLLECTING OR RECEIVING, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, BY HIMSELF AND/OR IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, COMMISSIONS OR PERCENTAGES BY REASON OF SAID PURCHASES OF SHARES OF STOCK IN THE AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS [P189,700,000], MORE OR LESS, FROM THE BELLE CORPORATION WHICH BECAME PART OF THE DEPOSIT IN THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK UNDER THE ACCOUNT NAME “JOSE VELARDE”;

(d) by unjustly enriching himself FROM COMMISSIONS, GIFT, SHARES, PERCENTAGES, KICKBACKS, OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFITS, IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in the amount of MORE OR LESS THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS [P3,233,104,173.17] AND DEPOSITING THE SAME UNDER HIS ACCOUNT NAME “JOSE VELARDE” AT THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

constitute a “combination or series of overt or criminal acts, or similar schemes,” or constitute “a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy,” all done with mens rea, there would be no plunder.

Indeed, as shall presently be demonstrated, the evidence presented by the prosecution, even assuming with probative worth, do not prove that the aforementioned acts enumerated in paragraphs a, b, c and d of the “Amended Information” constitute a “combination or series,” or “scheme,” much less “a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy” to amass, accumulate or acquire wealth.

The acts imputed to accused do not constitute plunder; apart from obvious inadequacy of proof. –

The Constitution requires that in all criminal prosecutions the accused “be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him x x x.”

In implementation, a criminal action may only be instituted by the filing of a complaint or information which must contain, to the extent pertinent to the instant case, the following:

SEC. 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information.—A complaint or information is sufficient if it states the name of the accused; the designation of the offense given by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense;* the name of the offended party; the approximate date of the commission of the offense; and the place where the offense was committed.

When an offense is committed by more than one person, all of them shall be included in the complaint or information.*

x x x x x x x x x

SEC. 8. Designation of the offense. ? The complaint or information shall state the designation of the offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the offense,* and specify its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of the offense, reference shall be made to the section or subsection of the statute punishing it.

SEC. 9. Cause of the accusation. ? The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense* and the qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be stated in ordinary and concise language* and not necessarily in the language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is being charged as well as its qualifying and aggravating circumstances and for the court to pronounce judgment.

xxx xxx xxx

SEC. 13. Duplicity of the Offense. – A complaint or information must charge only one offense, except when the law prescribes a single punishment for various offenses.

(Rule 110, Rules of Court)

To formalize implementation of the right, the accused is arraigned at which time a copy of the complaint or information is furnished the accused, read to him and to which he pleads guilty or not guilty.

After the accused pleads to the information, the information may only be amended with leave of court “and (only) when it can be done without causing prejudice to the rights of the accused.”

No fact, other than those which are alleged, may be proven. Presentation of evidence can not have the effect of validating a void information, or proving an offense not alleged. Nor may the prosecution contradict what is alleged in the information. It is bound by what is alleged. These may not be regarded as mere rules of evidence but are founded on the constitutional right of the accused to “be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.”

———-•———

The accused is charged of plunder, and it must be assumed of a SINGLE, or ONE, offense of plunder, and as to which he was arraigned, under the following:

AMENDED INFORMATION**

The undersigned Ombudsman Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman, hereby accused* former President of the Republic of the Philippines, Joseph Ejercito Estrada* a.k.a. “Asiong Salonga” and a.k.a. “Jose Velarde”, together with* Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, John Doe a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and John Does & Jane Does, of the crime of Plunder, defined and penalized under R.A. No. 7080, as amended by Sec. 12 of R.A. 7659, committed as follows:

That during the period from June, 1998 to January, 2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada,* then a public officer being then the President of the Republic of the Philippines, by himself and/or in connivance/conspiracy with his co-accused* who are members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates and/or other persons, by taking undue advantage of his official position, authority, relationship, connection, or influence, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally AMASS, ACCUMULATE AND ACQUIRE* by himself, directly or indirectly,* ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or total value of Four Billion Ninety Seven Million Eight Hundred Four Thousand One Hundred Seventy Three Pesos and Seventeen Centavos [P4,097,804,173.17], more or less, thereby unjustly enriching himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines, through ANY OR A COMBINATION OR A SERIES OF OVERT OR CRIMINAL ACTS, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS,* described as follows:

(a) by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on several instances, money in the aggregate amount of Five Hundred Forty-five Million Pesos (P545,000,000.00), more or less, from illegal gambling in the form of gift, share, percentage, kickback or any form of pecuniary benefit, by himself and/or* in connivance with co-accused Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Jose ‘Jinggoy” Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, and John Does and Jane Does, in consideration of toleration or protection of illegal gambling;

(b) by diverting, receiving, misappropriating, converting or misusing* directly or indirectly, for his or their personal gain and benefit, public funds* in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS [P130,000,000.00], more or less, representing a portion of the Two Hundred Million Pesos* [P200,000,000.00] tobacco excise tax share allocated* for the Province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, by himself and/or in connivance with co-accused Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Alma Alfaro, John Doe a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, and Jane Does a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and other John Does and Jane Does;

(c) by directing, ordering and compelling, for his personal gain and benefit,* the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to purchase, 351,878,000 shares of stocks,* more or less, and the Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 shares of stock, more or less, of the Belle Corporation in the amount of more or less One Billion One Hundred Two Million Nine Hundred Sixty Five Thousand Six Hundred Seven Pesos and Fifty Centavos [P1,102,965,607.50] and more or less Seven Hundred Forty-four Million Six Hundred Twelve Thousand and Four Hundred Fifty Pesos (P744,612,450.00), respectively, or a total of more or less One Billion Eight Hundred Forty Seven Million Five Hundred Seventy Eight Thousand Fifty Seven Pesos and Fifty Centavos (P1,847,578,057.50); and by collecting or receiving, directly or indirectly, by himself and/or in connivance* with John Does and Jane Does, commissions or percentages* by reason of said purchases of shares of stock in the amount of One Hundred Eighty Nine Million Seven Hundred Thousand Pesos [P189,700,000], more or less, from the Belle Corporation* which became part of the deposit in the Equitable –PCI Bank under the account name “Jose Velarde”;

(d) by unjustly enriching himself from commissions, gift, shares, percentages, kickbacks, or any form of pecuniary benefits,* in connivance with John Does and Jane Does, in the amount of more or less THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS [P3,233,104,173.17] and depositing the same under his account name “Jose Velarde” at the Equitable-PCI Bank.*

CONTRARY TO LAW.

The acts constitutive of the offense alleged in the “Amended Information” are the following:

– the accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada x x x by himself and/or in connivance*/conspiracy with his co-accused x x x willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire*

– by himself,* directly or indirectly, ill-gotten wealth* in the aggregate amount or total value of x x x [P4,097,804,173.17].

– thereby unjustly enriching himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines…

– through any or a combination or a series of overt or criminal acts, or similar schemes or means* …

– described as follows:

(a) x x x x x x x x x

(b) x x x x x x x x x

(c) x x x x x x x x x

(d) x x x x x x x x x

———-•———-

The following, of significance, and fatal to the case of the prosecution are patent in the records of the case:

A.

1. The constitutive acts of “amassing, accumulating and acquiring” ill-gotten wealth is imputed to accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada . . .” by himself, directly or indirectly.…”

2. At the initial clause of the accusatory paragraph, it is alleged that “accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada . . . by himself and/or in connivance/conspiracy with his co-accused….” Assuming that the clause, although in the alternative, is to be given value, the co-accused with whom accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada allegedly conspired are the following:

a. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada;
b. Charlie “Atong” Ang;
c. Edward Serapio;
d. Yolanda T. Ricaforte;
e. Alma Alfaro;
f. Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy;
g. Delia Rajas; and
h. John Does and Jane Does who have never been identified.

Significantly which, being specific and particular must prevail, the persons with whom he allegedly conspired as to each of the acts referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) are different individuals, thus:

a. In par. (a), those with whom accused Estrada allegedly conspired are Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, and John Does and Jane Does;

b. In par. (b), those with whom accused Estrada allegedly conspired are Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Alma Alfaro, John Doe a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, and Jane Does a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and other John Does and Jane Does;

c. In par. (c), those with whom accused Estrada allegedly conspired are “John Does and Jane Does”; and

d. In par. (d), no person with whom accused Estrada allegedly conspired is named or identified.
3. By the prosecution’s evidence, the probative worth of which is nil as shall hereafter be demonstrated, but which is here assumed show:

a. The principal actor as to specification (a) involving money from illegal gambling is Gov. Chavit Singson. Unless there is a conspiracy, a person is solely responsible for his own acts. Otherwise stated, only where a conspiracy is established, is the act of a conspirator considered
the act of all the conspirators. Gov. Singson is not, however, alleged in the information as a co-conspirator. Not any of the acts he allegedly committed may consequently be imputed to accused Estrada.

b. The same is true as to specification (b) regarding funds pertaining to the shares allocated to the Province of Ilocos Sur from the tobacco excise tax.

c. Similarly, as to specification (c) on the purchase by the GSIS and the SSS of shares of stocks in Belle Corporation. Federico Pascual and Carlos Arellano, the officials who respectively directed and authorized the purchases, are not among the accused as co-conspirators. Their respective acts of directing and ordering the purchase may not be imputed to accused Estrada.

d. And as to specification (d), not one person who provided the “commissions, gift, shares, percentages, kickbacks … which were deposited in the “Jose Velarde” account is accused as a co-conspirator. Except for Jaime Dichavez who appears to have opened the account (and implicitly owns it) and who is alleged to have made a deposit, no other person has been identified. Jaime Dichavez is not an accused and is not a named conspirator.

An analogy may clarify the point. Had the case been of murder, the constitutive element of the offense is the act of killing the victim; if theft, the act of taking the personal property of another; if malversation, the act of misappropriating the public funds. Unless the person who did the killing in murder, the act of taking in theft, the act of misappropriation in malversation is identified and accused, no one may be charged, much less convicted, as a co-conspirator of the principal.

B.

1. It is exceedingly clear that “plunder” is not just the “amassing, accumulation or acquisition” of wealth of the aggregate amount or total value of at least P75 million through any, or several, of the acts described in Section 1(d). Section 2 which defines the offense requires that the acts of “amassing, accumulation or acquisition” is done “through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof….” Section 1(d) explicitly requires likewise that the acquisition be “by any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes: x x x.” That this is an element, indeed the core element of the offense, Section 4 provides:

SECTION 4. Rule of Evidence.* ? For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish* beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.*

Although entitled “Rule of Evidence,” the provision makes crystal clear that the acts constitute a “scheme” or a “conspiracy” or a “pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.”

2. The critical words employed are not sterile in their implications; they are of meaningful significance which, if at all, would be the only justification for the imposition of the extreme penalties of death or life imprisonment. They are defined as follows:

Combination – 1 a : a result or product of combining; esp : an alliance of individuals, corporations, or states united to achieve a social, political, or economic end;* b : two or more persons working as a team;* 2 : an ordered sequence:* as a : a sequence of letters or numbers chosen in setting a lock;* also : the mechanism operating or moved by the sequence; b : a rapid sequence of punches in boxing; c : any subset of a set considered without regard to order within the subset; 3: any of various one-piece undergarments for the upper and lower parts of the body — usu. used in pl. 4 : an instrument designed to perform two or more tasks; 5 a : the act or process of combining; esp : that of uniting to form a chemical compound; b : the quality or state of being combined (WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY)

Series – 1 a : a number of things or events of the same class coming one after another in spatial or temporal succession;* b : a set of regularly presented television programs* each of which is complete in itself; 2 : the indicated sum of a usu. infinite sequence of numbers; 3 a : the coins or currency of a particular country and period; b : a group of postage stamps in different denominations; 4 : a succession of volumes or issues published with related subjects or authors, similar format and price, or continuous numbering; 5 : a division of rock formations that is smaller than a system and comprises rocks deposited during an epoch; 6 : a group of chemical compounds related in composition and structure; 7 : an arrangement of the parts of or elements in an electric circuit whereby the whole current passes through each part or element without branching — compare PARALLEL; 8 : a set of vowels connected by ablaut; 9 : a number of games (as of baseball) played usu. on consecutive days between two teams; 10 : a group of successive coordinate sentence elements joined together

Scheme – A design or plan formed to accomplish some purpose;* a system. Snider v. Leatherwood, TexCiv. App. 49 S.W.2d 1107, 1110. When used in a bad sense, term corresponds with “trick” or “fraud”.

Pattern – A reliable sample of traits, acts or other observable features characterizing an individual . Richerson v. Superior Court In and For Sacramento County, App., 70 Cal.Rptr. 350, 352.

The words “pattern or practice” within the Civil Rights Act provision which permits the Attorney General to seek relief when there is a pattern or practice of resistance to the Act is more than isolated or accidental instance or conduct in violation of the Act; it means an intentional, regular or repeated violation of the right granted by the Act.* U.S. v. Hunter, C.A.Md., 459 F.2d 205, 217.

3. All of the above indubitably require that the “acts” – if they are to be regarded as a “series,” or a “combination,” or a “similar scheme” and constituting a “pattern” which is “indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy” must, as a minimum, have the following characteristics:

a. They are not isolated, unrelated, disjointed, ad hoc acts – but linked together by the nature of the acts, the persons
involved, the modus operandi, the time of commission;

b. Planned, pre-conceived and deliberately committed – not as occasion arises, the occasion and the opportunity conceived and deliberately brought about by the accused as integral parts of a scheme or conspiracy.

4. Apparently uncertain that the specific acts of “amassing, accumulation or acquisition” constitute a “combination or series of overt or criminal acts,” or “similar scheme” showing a “pattern . . . indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy,” the “Amended Information” alleges that the accused “willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire by himself, directly or indirectly, ill-gotten wealth x x x

– through ANY OR* A combination OR A* series of overt OR* criminal acts OR* SIMILAR SCHEMES OR* MEANS, described as follows:

(a) x x x x x x x x x

(b) x x x x x x x x x

(c) x x x x x x x x x

(d) x x x x x x x x x

Thus, the particular acts specified (pars. a, b, c and d) as the means of “amassing, accumulation or acquisition” of wealth are not alleged as necessarily constituting “a combination or series of overt and criminal acts…” but possibly a single act or several distinct acts not linked together as a “combination,” or a “series,” or constituting a “similar scheme” of overt or criminal acts.

5. The original information, and this is of utmost significance, was crafted hewing the language of the law, that the accused “did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire ill-gotten wealth . . . in the aggregate amount of P4,097,804,173.17, more or less, through a combination and series of overt and criminal acts, described as follows:

(a) x x x x x x x x x

(b) x x x x x x x x x

(c) x x x x x x x x x

(d) x x x x x x x x x

However, the operative clause was changed in the “Amended Information” by explicitly alleging that the act of “amassing, accumulation or acquisition” of ill-gotten wealth was through “ANY OR A combination OR A series of overt OR criminal acts, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES.” The change is not just of words or a phrase; with the insertion of the word “ANY,” the acts enumerated in Section 1(d) committed as a means to acquire ill-gotten wealth need not constitute a “combination or series” or “similar scheme,” and would not meet the requirements of R.A. No. 7080. For, indeed, it is easily evident that the acts particularly alleged (pars. a, b, c and d), with different conspirators, do not constitute a “combination,” or a “series,” or “similar scheme” and a “pattern … indicative of the overall scheme or conspiracy.” The amendment of the information was obviously intended to preclude opposition to evidence of particular acts, absent a showing that they constitute a “combination,” or a “series,” or “similar scheme,” or a “pattern . . . indicative of the overall scheme or conspiracy.” Unwittingly, the prosecution, by amending the information, exposed the fatal inadequacy of the information and the evidence it had, and eventually presented.

6. Briefly then, the prosecution’s evidence, even assuming probative value although nil, do not show that the accused “willfully, unlawfully and criminally AMASS, ACCUMULATE AND ACQUIRE by himself, directly or indirectly, ill-gotten wealth …” by the commission of the enumerated acts which constitute a “combination,” or a “series,” or “similar scheme” showing a “pattern . . . indicative of the overall scheme or conspiracy.” Absent an explicit allegation and proof beyond reasonable doubt of this vital element of the offense of plunder under R.A. No. 7080, there can be no conviction.

———•———

In light of the foregoing, the “Amended Information” does not sufficiently charge accused Estrada of plunder under Republic Act No. 7080, or assuming that it charges him of plunder, failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt, the commission of the offense for the following reasons:

a. The information does not allege that the alleged act of “amassing, accumulating and acquiring” of wealth was by means which constitute “a combination or a series of overt or criminal acts or similar schemes”;

b. The specific acts alleged to have been used as the means of “amassing, accumulating and acquiring” wealth (paragraphs a, b, c and d of the “Amended Information”) on their face do not appear to constitute a combination or a series of criminal or overt acts or similar schemes”;

c. Assuming adequacy of the allegations of the “Amended Information,” in charging accused Estrada of plunder, the evidence presented by the prosecution failed to show beyond reasonable doubt that:

1) The accused committed the act of “amassing, accumulating and acquiring” wealth, particularly, the acts described in paragraphs a, b, c and d of the “Amended Information”;

2) Assuming the acts were committed, the particular acts described in paragraphs a and b were committed by Governor Chavit Singson, not by accused Estrada; those in paragraph c by Carlos Arellano and Federico Pascual, and those in paragraph d by nameless and unidentified individuals;

d. Assuming committed by the accused, there is no showing whatsoever that the acts described in paragraphs a, b, c and d were conceived and committed by the accused in “combination” with each other or as a “series” or as a “scheme” constituting “a pattern of overt criminal acts indicative of schemes or conspiracy” and committed with mens rea.

In short, not one element of the offense of plunder is adequately alleged and proven beyond reasonable doubt ? what is evident beyond reasonable doubt is that the accused did not commit plunder and deserves peremptory acquittal.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

From the beginning, it was a blunder. The Ombudsman, on April 4, 2001, filed before the Sandiganbayan eight (8) separate informations against the herein accused:

1. Criminal Case No. 26558, for violation of RA 7080, as amended by RA 7659;

2. Criminal Cases Nos. 26559, 26560, 26561, and 26562, for violation of Sections 3 (a), 3 (a), 3 (e), and 3 (e), of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act);

3. Criminal Case No. 26563, for violation of Section 7, par. (d), of RA 6713, (The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees);

4. Criminal Case No. 26564, for perjury (Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code); and

5. Criminal Case No. 26565, for illegal use of an alias (CA No. 142, as amended by RA 6085).

The original Information in Criminal Case No. 26558 reads:

“The undersigned Ombudsman Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman, hereby accuses former Joseph Ejercito Estrada, together with Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, Eleuterio Tan a.k.a. Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and John & Jane Does, of the crime of Plunder, defined and penalized under R.A. No. 7080, as amended by Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 7659, committed as follows:

That during the period from June, 1998 to January, 2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, by himself and in conspiracy with his co-accused, business associates and persons heretofore named, by taking advantage of his official position, authority, connection or influence as President of the Republic of the Philippines, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire ill-gotten wealth, and unjustly enrich himself in the aggregate amount of P4,097,804,173.17, more or less, through a combination and series of overt and criminal acts, described as follows:

(a) by receiving, collecting, directly or indirectly, on many instances, so-caled “jueteng money” from gambling operators in connivance with co-accused Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte and Edward Serapio, as witnessed by Gov. Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson, among other witnesses, in the aggregate amount of FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS (P545,000,000.00), more or less, in consideration of their protection from arrest or interference by law enforcers in their illegal “jueteng” activities; and

(b) by misappropriating, converting and misusing for his gain and benefit public fund in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS (P130,000,000.00), more or less, representing a portion of the One Hundred Seventy Million Pesos (P170,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax share allocated for the Province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, in conspiracy with co-accused Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Alma Alfaro, Eleuterio Tan a.k.a. Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, and Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, as witnessed by Gov. Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson, among other witnesses; and

(c) by directing, ordering and compelling the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) to purchase and buy a combined total of 681,733,000 shares of stock of the Belle Corporation in the aggregate gross value of One Billion Eight Hundred Forty-Seven Million Five Hundred Seventy Eight Thousand Fifty Seven Pesos and Fifty Centavos (P1,847,578,057.50), for the purpose of collecting for his personal gain and benefit, as in fact he did collect and receive the sum of ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P189,700,000.00), as commission from said stock purchase; and

(d) by unjustly enriching himself in the amount of THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P3,233,104,173.17) comprising his unexplained wealth acquired, accumulated and amassed by him under his account name “Jose Velarde” with Equitable PCI Bank;

to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.

CONTRARY TO LAW.”

The above Information was filed by the Ombudsman even before he had conducted any preliminary investigation on the ‘Jose Velarde’ account, which prompted accused Pres. Estrada to move on April 16, 2001 for remand of the Crim. Case No. 26558 to the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation. On April 16, 2001, the Sandiganbayan (Third Division), noting that the required affidavits, counter-affidavits and supporting evidence, have not been attached to the Information nor submitted to the Court, resolved that it could not determine the existence of probable cause to decide on the issuance of a warrant of arrest, and ordered the prosecution to submit the required documents.

On April 18, 2001, the Prosecution moved for the admission of an Amended Information, purportedly to conform with the findings of fact of the Prosecution in its earlier Resolution. The Amended Information reads:

“The undersigned Ombudsman, Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman, hereby accuses former PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, a.k.a. ‘ASIONG SALONGA’ and a.k.a. ‘JOSE VELARDE’ together with Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan OR Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and John DOES & Jane Does, of the crime of Plunder, defined and penalized under R.A. No. 7080, as amended by Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 7659, committed as follows:

That during the period from June, 1998 to January 2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, THEN A PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, by himself AND/OR in CONNIVANCE/CONSPIRACY with his co-accused, WHO ARE MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY, RELATIVES BY AFFINITY OR CONSANGUINITY, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, SUBORDINATES AND/OR OTHER PERSONS, BY TAKING UNDUE ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION, AUTHORITY, RELATIONSHIP, CONNECTION, OR INFLUENCE, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire BY HIMSELF, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or TOTAL VALUE of FOUR BILLION NINETY SEVEN MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P4,097,804,173.17), more or less, THEREBY UNJUSTLY ENRICHING HIMSELF OR THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE AND TO THE DAMAGE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, through ANY OR A combination OR A series of overt OR criminal acts, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS, described as follows:

(a) by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on SEVERAL INSTANCES, MONEY IN THE AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS (P545,000,000.00), MORE OR LESS, FROM ILLEGAL GAMBLING IN THE FORM OF GIFT, SHARE, PERCENTAGE, KICKBACK OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFIT, BY HIMSELF AND/OR in connection with co-accused CHARLIE ‘ATONG’ ANG, Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, AND JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in consideration OF TOLERATION OR PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL GAMBLING;

(b) by DIVERTING, RECEIVING, misappropriating, converting OR misusing DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, for HIS OR THEIR PERSONAL gain and benefit, public funds in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS (P130,000,000.00), more or less representing a portion of the TWO HUNDRED MILLION PESOS (P200,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax share allocated for the province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, by himself and/or in connivance with co-accused Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a. Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, AND OTHER JOHN DOES & JANE DOES; (italic supplied).

(c) by directing, ordering and compelling, FOR HIS PERSONAL GAIN AND BENEFIT, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) TO PURCHASE 351,878,000 SHARES OF STOCKS, MORE OR LESS, and the Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 SHARES OF STOCK, MORE OR LESS, OF THE BELLE CORPORATION IN THE AMOUNT OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION ONE HUNDRED TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (P1,102,965,607.50) AND MORE OR LESS SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY FOUR MILLION SIX HUNDRED TWELVE THOUSAND AND FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (P744,612,450.00), RESPECTIVELY, OR A TOTAL OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (P1,847,578,057.50); AND BY COLLECTING OR RECEIVING, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, BY HIMSELF AND/OR IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, COMMISSIONS OR PERCENTAGES BY REASON OF SAID PURCHASES OF SHARES OF STOCK IN THE AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P189,700,000.00) MORE OR LESS, FROM THE BELLE CORPORATION WHICH BECAME PART OF THE DEPOSIT IN THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK UNDER THE ACCOUNT NAME ‘JOSE VELARDE’;

(d) by unjustly enriching himself FROM COMMISSIONS, GIFTS, SHARES, PERCENTAGES, KICKBACKS, OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFITS, IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in the amount of MORE OR LESS THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P3,233,104,173.17) AND DEPOSITING THE SAME UNDER HIS ACCOUNT NAME ‘JOSE VELARDE’ AT THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK.”

Criminal Case No. 26558 was raffled to the Third Division of the Sandiganbayan composed of Justice Anacleto Badoy, presiding, and Justices Teresita De Castro and Ricardo Ilarde. On April 20, 2001, the Sandiganbayan granted the Prosecution’s motion to admit the Amended Information. Five days later, the Court denied accused’s motion to remand the case to the Ombudsman, on the ground that the Court lacked jurisdiction over the persons of the accused. On the same day, April 25, 2001, the Court ordered the issuance of a warrant of arrest against accused Pres. Estrada and his son, Jinggoy Estrada.

The warrant of arrest was executed immediately on the same day with overwhelming force. The arrest, as described by an unsympathetic author, reveals the overkill:

“Hordes of masa put themselves along the street to block off a reported police detachment out to arrest him on charges of plunder. A huge, heavily-armed team of police officers and men arrived and knifed inexorably through the masa crowd and arrested Erap, loaded him and son Jinggoy into a car, and brought them to Camp Crame.

Father and son were photographed in the same manner that other prisoners were, although with television coverage.”

After the accused were photographed and fingerprinted as common criminals, the Court issued an order granting the PNP Director General authority to transfer them to the PNP Special Action Force Training School in Fort Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

There were several preliminary skirmishes before the Sandiganbayan after the arrest of the accused. The most significant was the motion to quash on the ground that the facts alleged in the Information do not constitute an indictable offense since the Plunder Law is unconstitutional for being vague and in violation of the due process clause. The Court denied the Motion, and this was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

The trial of this case began in the Third Division up to the end of the year 2001.

On January 21, 2002, the Supreme Court En Banc in Administrative Matter No. 02-07-OC, resolved to create a Special Division to hear and try all the cases against the accused [Plunder, Illegal Use of Alias, and Perjury] and designated the following justices to be members thereof:

Special Division: Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario [presiding]
Justice Edilberto G. Sandoval
Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro

With the appointment of Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario to the Supreme Court, the latter, on August 3, 2004, issued a resolution designating Justice Francisco H. Villaruz, Jr. as the new third member of the Special Division:

Special Division: Justice Edilberto G. Sandoval [acting presiding]
Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro
Justice Francisco H. Villaruz, Jr.

After Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro was appointed as the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan, Justice Edilberto G. Sandoval resigned from the Special Division. The Supreme Court thus, on February 8, 2005, issued a resolution designating Justice Diosdado M. Peralta as the new third member of the Special Division:

Special Division: Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro [presiding]
Justice Francisco H. Villaruz, Jr.
Justice Diosdado M. Peralta

As a result of the changes in the composition of the special tribunal hearing of this case, the sitting Justices, with the exception of Justice De Castro, have not been able to personally hear the witnesses presented by the prosecution and by the defense. Below is a tabulation of the Justices and the witnesses they were able to hear.

Third Division:

J. Anacleto D. Badoy, Jr.

J. Teresita Leonardo-De Castro

J. Ricardo M. Ilarde
Special Division:

J. Minita Chico-Nazario

J. Edilberto G. Sandoval

J. Teresita Leonardo-De Castro Special Division:

J. Edilberto G. Sandoval

J. Teresita Leonardo-De Castro

J. Francisco H. Villaruz, Jr.
Special Division:

J. Teresita Leonardo-De Castro

J. Francisco H. Villaruz, Jr.

J. Diosdado M. Peralta

Prosecution witnesses:

1. Willy Ocier

2. Carlos Arellano

3. Federico Pascual
Prosecution witnesses:

1. Ma. Socorro Yolanda de Leon

2. Rizaldy T. Capulong

3. Livia Alicia Ramos

4. Atty. Manuel Curato

5. Henrietta Roque

6. Glyzelene Bejec

7. Gerardo Avendaño

8. Salvador Serrano

9. Teresita Barcelona

10. Ma. Pamela Moran

11. Joanne Mok

12. Ma. Edelquin Nantes

13. Linda Sison

14. Remedios Aguilar

15. Ma. Rosario Bautista

16. Shakira Yu

17. Vergel Pabillon

18. Edgardo Alcaraz

19. Emma Gonzalez-Lim

20. Ma. Carmencita Itchon

21. Chavit Singson

22. Vicente Amistad

23. Jemis Singson

24. Atty. David Yap

25. Federico Artates

26. Antonio Fortuno

27. Aida Basilaso

28. Marianito Dimaandal

29. Patrick Dee Cheng

30. Atty. Melchor Latina

31. Ilonor Madrid

32. Kathryn Victoriano

33. Gwenmarie Samontina

34. Rogelio Quevedo

35. Lagrimas Claveria

36. Renato Balatbat

37. Leonora Royo

38. Carolina Guerrero

39. Ma. Caridad Rodenas

40. Atty. William Chua

41. Hernando Sac

42. Clarissa Ocampo

43. Isma Castel Gonzalez

44. Annette Tamayo

45. Atty. Cecilio Villanueva

46. Michellete Legaspi

47. Melissa Pascual

48. Christine Tabo

49. Atty. Manuel Roxas

50. Atty. Oswaldo Santos

51. Manuel Barcena

52. Ma. Elizabeth Balagot

53. Lamberto Del Fonso, Jr.

54. Ma. Aurora Baldoz

55. Danilo Camacho

56. Maria Rose Claudio

57. Rene Collin Gray

58. Maria Eileen Tiongson

59. Guillermo Briones

Defense witnesses:

1. Atty. David Yap Defense witnesses:

1. Atty. Agaton Dacayanan

2. Bonifacio M. Ona

3. Elvira Felix

4. Elizabeth Savella

5. Cong. Baby Asistio

6. Atty. Carlos Saunar

7. Atty. Estelita Cordero

8. Sen. Jinggoy Estrada

9. Maribeth Escobar

10. Rosemarie San Gregorio

11. Susan M. Aviles

12. Noel Israel Buendia

13. Josefina Ramos

14. Henrietta Roque

15. Justice Hermogenes Concepcion

16. Atty. Merceditas Gaculitan

17. Reynaldo Palmiery

18. Rizaldy T. Capulong

19. Danilo Reyes

20. Alicia Reyes

21. Atty. Emilia S. Padua

22. Alfredo Lim

23. Violeta Damitan

24. Salvador Domona

25. Sohayle Marangit

26. Janice Negrosa

27. Roque Morales

28. Atty. Carina Demaisip

29. Ricardo Golpeo

30. Beatrice Bagsit

31. Ma. Lourdes Florendo

32. Atty. Raymond Fortun

33. Romuald Dy Tang

34. Atty. Alan Gepty

35. Benedicto Flores

36. CJ Andres Narvasa

37. Sen. Aquilino Pimentel

38. Dr. Jema David

39. Sen. Edgardo Angara

40. Gen. Rodolfo Diaz

41. Atty. Hilario Ragunzan

42. Atty. Dennis Tudao

43. Linda Limpe

44. Norman Bordadora

45. Rosalinda Ng

46. Nelson Flores

47. Delon Porcalla

48. Maria Salvacion Barona

49. Atty. Ricardo Romulo

50. Armand Nocum

51. Alcuin Papa

52. Atty. Joseph Orsos

53. P/Supt. Arturo Paglinawan

54. P/Supt. Rodolfo Azurin

55. P/Chief Insp. Noel Vallo

56. Eugene Macamasbad

57. Milagros Ong

58. Angelino Maximino De Leon

59. P/Chief Supt. Eliseo Dela Paz

60. Joniro Fradejas

61. Amita Legaspi

62. Etesa Corazon Taroy

63. Atty. Ricardo Valera Paras III

64. Fr. James Reuter

65. P/Chief Supt. Renato Mendoza

66. Cresencio Orias, Jr.

67. Atty. Manuel Curato

68. Marichu Villanueva

69. Atty. Ricardo Puno

70. Atty. Jesus Crispin Remulla

71. Cong. Arturo Fuentebella

72. Carmello Santiago

73. PJEE

74. Lorna Dumlao

STATEMENT OF FACTS

I. ALLEGED JUETENG PAY-OFFS

In paragraph (a) of the Amended Information in Criminal Case No. 26558, the prosecution charges the accused President Joseph Ejercito Estrada with the crime of Plunder “by receiving or collecting, directly or indirectly, on several instances, money in the aggregate amount of Five Hundred Forty Five Million (Php545,000,000.00) more or less, from illegal gambling in the form of gift, share, percentage, kickback or any form of pecuniary benefit, by himself and/or in connivance with co-accused Charlie “Atong” Ang, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, and John Does and Jane Does, in consideration of toleration or protection of illegal gambling.

A. The Prosecution’s Evidence

In proving its case that President Estrada had, directly or indirectly, received or collected Php545 Million, more or less, in consideration of toleration or protection of illegal gambling, the prosecution presented twenty-two (22) witnesses: Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, Edelquin Nantes, Rosario Bautista, Shakira Yu, Vergel Pabillion, Edgardo Lim Alcaraz, Emma Avila Gonzalez, Carmencita Itchon, Emma Lim, Vicente Amistad, Jamis Singson, Federico Artates, Antonio Martin Fortuno, Aida Basilaso, Patrick Dee Cheng, Marianito Dimaandal, Atty. Melchor S. Latina, Atty. Rogelio Quevedo, Carolina S. Guerrero, Atty. Cecilio Villanueva, Christine Marie Tabo, and Atty. Oswaldo Santos.

Gov. Singson testified that President Estrada, Bong Pineda, Atong Ang and himself had a meeting at the President’s house at Polk St. sometime in August 1998. At said meeting, the President instructed that the jueteng money shall be delivered to him [President Estrada] no longer by Bong Pineda but by Atong Ang or by Gov. Singson. On the day following, Gov. Singson and Atong Ang began meeting with the jueteng operators. He and Atong Ang began collecting in August 1998 and started delivering their collections to the President in September 1998 . In October 1998, Atong Ang and the President had a disagreement about the sugar allocation. From then on, beginning in November 1998, the task of collecting jueteng money fell mainly on Gov. Singson . Gov. Singson listed his collections and expenses in a ledger which he prepared on a monthly basis . The ledgers which Gov. Singson claimed to have prepared are the ledgers from November 1998 to July 1999 . When the President assigned Yolanda Ricaforte to become his auditor for jueteng , the ledgers were thereafter prepared by the latter – these ledgers are those from August 1999 to August 2000 . The collection from November 1998 to August 2000 amounted to Php540 Million, more or less .

Gov. Singson claimed that all deliveries to the President [once or twice a month of Php5 Million or Php10 Million and which are listed in the ledgers as an “expense”] were made by him personally except for one time when it was Emma Lim who brought the money to Malacañang . Gov. Singson claimed to have personally delivered to the President the total amount Php200 Million .

Gov. Singson claimed that he delivered money to the President at Polk St., at the Presidential Residence and once at the house of Ms. Guia Gomez .

The net collection appearing in the ledgers, according to Gov. Singson, were deposited in Yolanda Ricaforte’s bank accounts with Equitable-PCI Bank .

Gov. Singson further claimed that sometime in early 2000, the President instructed him to give Php200 Million to Atty. Serapio – this instruction was given in Malacañang in the presence of himself, Yolanda Ricaforte and Atty. Serapio. It was Yolanda Ricaforte who gave the Php 200 Million to Atty. Serapio .

In July 2000, the ledger reflected a zero balance/collection because at that time, Gov. Singson claimed, the jueteng had been transferred to the Pick-2 game and Bingo 2-balls game of PAGCOR .

Gov. Singson asked Atong Ang to reserve the franchise/license for Ilocos Sur Bingo 2-balls for him. Atong Ang instead gave the franchise/license to Bonito Singson and Eric Singson , who were his political rivals in Ilocos Sur.

Gov. Singson then protested to the President of what Atong Ang did but the President replied “wala akong pakialam diyan”. He then told the President “kung dahil lang diyan, pagkatapos ng lahat bibitawan mo ako, bibitaw na rin ako sa iyo” .

Thereafter, Gov. Singson claimed, an attempt on his life was made at San Marcelino St. in Manila when two mobile patrols attempted to ambush him to prevent him from making an exposé.

Carmencita Itchon testified that she was hired by Gov. Singson as an accountant for Fontainbleau, Inc. which held office at the 2nd floor of LCS Building and which was funded by jueteng collections according to Gov. Singson from whom she and Yolanda Ricaforte asked funds for the pre-operating expenses of the company . The company, which could not get a license from PAGCOR , was eventually sold/assigned to RN Development Corp. which reimbursed its pre-operating expenses in the amount of Php65 Million . Thereafter, she and Yolanda Ricaforte concentrated on receiving jueteng collections . She testified that she received a total of 12 collections from messengers of Gov. Singson and Anton Prieto . She further claimed that Smart cellular phone number 0918-9021847 which was in her name was actually used by Yolanda Ricaforte . She identified the statements of account of said cellular phone which contained entries of calls made to the Malacañang Presidential Residence, to Jinggoy’s cellular phone, to Atty. Serapio’s cellular phone, to Gov. Singson’s cellular phone, and to Romy Pineda’s landline . On cross examination, she admitted that she has known Gov. Singson since she was a child and that her sister, Marylou Ancheta, is married to Gerry Singson [Gov. Singson’s brother] while her deceased brother was married to the sister of Gov. Singson . She further admitted on cross-examination that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed her as a director of John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation in September 2001 upon the recommendation of Gov. Singson .

Emma Lim testified that she has been working for Gov. Singson since July 1987 and that she started collecting money sometime in April 1999 . Upon instruction of Gov. Singson, she once collected a check in the amount of Php1,190,000 from Anton Prieto . Also upon instruction of Gov. Singson, she collected money from Bong Pineda once in January 2000 then again in February 2000 . She also collected money from then Mayor Jinggoy, upon instruction of Gov. Singson, in January 2000 and in February 2000 . In March 2000, then Mayor Jinggoy handed to her a United Overseas Bank personalized check in the amount of Php1 Million which she deposited into Gov. Singson’s account at Metrobank Ayala Center . She further testified that sometime in 1999, she delivered a black bag containing Php5 Million to Malou Florendo at the Presidential Residence without being subjected to the routine checks made by the Presidential Security Guards . Her only basis for saying that the money she collected is jueteng money is that Gov. Singson told her so .

Vicente Amistad, a security escort of Gov. Singson, testified that in 1999, upon instruction of Gov. Singson, he twice collected money from Bong Pineda in the total amount of Php12,750,000 [Php7,750,000 and Php5 Million ]. He again collected Php3,250,000 from Bong Pineda sometime in 2000 . He also claimed that in November 1999, he collected Php899,000 from a security escort of then Mayor Jinggoy Estrada at the San Juan Municipal Hall . He delivered all the money he collected to Gov. Singson at the LCS Building. He testified that he learned that the money he collected was jueteng money because of the press conference held by Gov. Singson .

Jamis Singson, Gov. Singson’s personal aide since 1997, testified that sometime in March 1999 he accompanied Federico Artates collect Php5 Million from Bong Pineda and they thereafter accompanied Emma Lim deliver the same money to the Presidential Residence in Malacanang . He further claimed that sometime in mid-1999, he collected Php7 Million from Bong Pineda which he delivered to Gov. Singson . He also testified that he twice collected money from then Mayor Jinggoy Estrada, once at the San Juan Municipal Hall and once at then Mayor Jinggoy Estrada’s residence . He stated on cross examination that he did not know that the money he collected was jueteng money .

Federico Artates, Gov. Singson’s security escort since 1991, testified that sometime in March 1999, upon instruction of Gov. Singson, he collected Php5 Million from Bong Pineda which was later delivered by Emma Lim to the Presidential Residence . He said on cross examination that he did not know then that the money he collected was jueteng money .

Edelquin Nantes, Rosario Bautista, Shakira Yu, Vergel Pabillon, Edgardo Lim Alcaraz, Emma Avila Gonzalez, branch managers of Equitable-PCI Bank, testified on the combo/special savings accounts opened and maintained by Yolanda Ricaforte in their respective branches as well as the closing/termination thereof and the subsequent application by Yolanda Ricaforte for cashier’s/manager’s checks payable to cash in the amounts of Php91 Million, Php77 Million, Php11 Million, Php11 Million, Php3 Million, and Php7 Million .

Antonio Martin Fortuno, branch manager of Equitable-PCI Pacific Star branch, testified that the foregoing checks were deposited on April 25, 2000 into a “bearer” account at his branch and were all subsequently withdrawn from April 27, 2000 up to May 11, 2000. He further testified that the amounts withdrawn from the “bearer” account were deposited into the savings account of Erap Muslim Youth Foundation maintained at Equitable-PCI Strata 100 branch.

Aida Basilaso, branch manager of Equitable-PCI Strata 100 branch, testified on the opening of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation’s current and savings account at her branch. She further testified that 28 inter-branch deposits from Equitable-PCI Pacific Star branch in the total amount of P200 million were made into the savings account of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation from April 27, 2000 up to May 11, 2000.

Patrick Dee Cheng, a Citibank officer, identified (i) the account then First Lady Loi Ejercito maintained at the Greenhills branch; (ii) the deposit slip reflecting the deposit therein of a Metrobank check in the amount of Php8 Million; (iii) the microfilm copy of said Php8 Million check; (iv) the account of William Gatchalian maintained at said bank; (v) the deposit slip reflecting the deposit therein of a Metrobank check in the amount of Php46,350,000.00; and (vi) the microfilm copy of said Php46,350,000.00 check.

Marianito Dimaandal, Assistant Director of the Malacanang Records Office, identified (i) the appointment papers of Atty. Edward Serapio as Presidential Assistant for Political Affairs; (ii) the appointment papers of Yolanda Ricaforte to San Miguel Campo Carne; (iii) the landline telephone numbers of the Malacanang Presidential Residence.

Atty. Melchor S. Latina, a Globe Telecommunications officer, identified the Globe cellular phone number/account of then Mayor Jinggoy Estrada.

Atty. Rogelio Quevedo, a Smart Telecommunications officer, identified the Smart cellular phone numbers/accounts of Atty. Edward Serapio, Carmencita Itchon and Yolanda Ricaforte.

Carolina S. Guerrero, branch manager of Philippine Savings Bank Murphy branch, identified (i) the account of Laarni Enriquez maintained at said bank; and (ii) the deposit slip reflecting the deposit therein of a Php1.2 Million Metrobank check.

Atty. Cecilio Villanueva, Assistant Corporate Secretary of PAGCOR, merely identified a certified true copy of the Excerpts of the Minutes No. 36 of PAGCOR’s Regular Board Meeting dated September 5, 2000.

Christine Marie Tabo, assistant branch manager of BPI Greenbelt branch, identified (i) the account of Jose and Carmen Yulo maintained at said bank; (ii) the statement of account reflecting the deposit therein of Php142 Million Equitable-PCI check; (iii) the account of St. Peter’s Holdings maintained at said bank; (iv) statements of account reflecting the deposits made into the account of St. Peter’s Holdings.

Atty. Oswaldo Santos, a partner of the law firm Ligon Solis Pizzaro Santos and De Borja, testified on the circumstances relative to his investigation of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation. He admitted on cross examination that his report’s conclusion is not accurate .

B. Defendant’s Evidence

The defense presented thirty-four (34) witnesses to disprove the allegations of Gov. Singson and his personal assistants/aides: President Estrada, Cong. Baby Asistio, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, Maribeth Escobar, Rosemarie San Gregorio, Susan M. Aviles, Noel Israel Buendia, Josefina Q. Ramos, Dr. Danilo Reyes, Alicia L. Reyes, Atty. Emilia S. Padua, Senator Alfredo Lim, Violeta S. Damitan, Salvador O. Domona, Sohayle Hadji Marangit, Janice Halim Negrosa, Roque S. Morales, Atty. Carina Demaisip, Ricardo Golpeo, Ma. Lourdes Florendo, Dr. Jema B. David, Senator Edgardo Angara, General Rodolfo Diaz, Atty. Hilario Paul Ragunjan, Norman Bordadora, Atty. Joseph Orsos, Pol. Supt. Arturo Pagninawan, Pol. Chief Inspector Noel Vallo, Eugene Macamasbad, Pol. Chief Supt. Eliseo Dela Paz, Joniro Fradejas, Pol. Chief Supt. Renato Paredes, Marichu Villanueva, Atty. Ricardo Puno, and Pol. Supt. Rodolfo Azurin.

President Estrada testified that this charge is politically motivated on the part of Gov. Singson who did not want jueteng to be legalized . He said that he had long suspected Gov. Singson of using his name for illegal gambling activities and confirmed his suspicion through reports of the investigation which he ordered .

He further testified that he had always been against illegal gambling. When he was Mayor of San Juan, his first directive was against illegal gambling which led to the closing of gambling dens and the arrest of persons involved in it . When the families of those arrested pleaded for their release, it was at that time that he conceived of legalizing jueteng to give those involved in it a decent means of living. When he became Senator, he proposed the legalization of jueteng through a privilege speech .

When he became Vice President, he was appointed to the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission and they went after kidnappers, drug lords, and carnappers. It was when he became President that he had the opportunity to pursue again the legalization of jueteng. He thus asked Justice Palma of the PCSO to study the matter . When Justice Palma retired, the task of studying fell on Chairman Rosario Lopez who begged off however because her husband got sick .

It was Chairman Alice Reyes/PAGCOR who or which completed the study. It was reported to him by Chairman Alice Reyes that through Bingo 2-Balls, the government will earn no less than Php5 Billion a year; the “cabos” and “kubradors” will have a job and SSS insurance – there will be no more harassment; the dialysis machine project of the First Lady will be realized. He suggested to Chairman Alice Reyes the creation of a Mayor’s fund to assist the Mayors with the requests for aid of their constituents. He was glad with this report because the money of the poor will go back to the poor . Thereafter, a dry-run was conducted by PAGCOR and it was successful.

In the meantime, while PAGCOR was studying Bingo 2-Balls, his policy against illegal gambling did not change. He issued directives to the PNP and the PNP issued memoranda against illegal gambling [Exhibits 468 and 469] .

He denied the following allegations of Gov. Singson: (i) that they [the President, Atong Ang, Gov. Singson, and Bong Pineda] had a meeting at Polk St. about jueteng – he added that Bong Pineda has never set foot at Polk St. ; (ii) that he received from Gov. Singson the amount of Php5 Million or Php10 Million every 15 days at Polk St., at P. Guevarra St. – he added that he does not receive visitors there, or at Malacañang ; (iii) that he ordered Gov. Singson to give Php5 Million to Bograd , Php1.2 Million to Laarni Enriquez [this according to him was a Christmas gift of Gov. Singson to his children by Laarni Enriquez] , Php65 Million to William Gatchalian, and Php8 Million to the First Lady .

He also denied knowing and/or receiving money from Emma Lim and Carmencita Itchon . He likewise denied any knowledge or participation about the “ledgers” of Gov. Singson .

He admitted knowing Yolanda Ricaforte whom he appointed to Campo Carne to help her and her husband [Usec. Orestes Ricaforte] because they had children studying abroad. He denied, however, that he appointed her as his jueteng auditor . He also denied knowing anything about the accounts of Yolanda Ricaforte with Equitable-PCI bank – he had never even seen those bank documents .

He denied the prosecution’s claim that the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation [“EMYF”] is a bogus foundation intended to launder jueteng protection money. He pointed out that he is not even a signatory to any of the foundation’s bank accounts .

He testified that he had been giving scholarships to the poor since he was a Mayor. In fact, he built the San Juan Municipal Highschool . He also established MOWELFUND for the benefit of less fortunate movie workers . He also established the ERAP Foundation [also called the ERAP Para Sa Mahirap Foundation] which has about 6,000 scholars [Exhibits 463 and 464] . He added that he had been donating his salary since he was Mayor to the foundations which he organized because of his vow to help the poor who helped his movie and political career .

He testified further that while he was campaigning for President, he promised to the Muslim youth that he will send the deserving of them for advance studies abroad . When he became President, he asked his brother-in-law, Dr. De Guzman, to organize the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation. Dr. De Guzman recommended the following persons to be its incorporators/trustees: Mr. George Go of Equitable-PCI bank, Atty. Edward Serapio, Prof. Mila Reforma, and Dr. Danilo Reyes .

He denied the allegation that he instructed Gov. Singson and Yolanda Ricaforte to give Php200 Million to the EMYF and/or to Atty. Serapio. He learned about Gov. Singson’s donation [which came with a request for anonymity] to EMYF through Atty. Serapio. He advised Atty. Serapio to return the money because it came from jueteng. He added that he knew this because Gov. Singson had been offering him the same money which he rejected. After that, he no longer knows what EMYF did with the money because the rallies against him had started although he came to know later that the money is intact with Equitable-PCI bank .

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada testified that he first met Gov. Singson during the presidential elections of 1998 when the President was campaigning in Ilocos Sur . He had no dealings with Gov. Singson except when the latter asked him for ambulances for Ilocos Sur .

He denied Gov. Singson’s claim (i) that he was the jueteng collector for Bulacan ; (ii) that he collected Php3 Million monthly from Bulacan and that he kept Php1 Million monthly from his collections ; (iii) that he confirmed this to Gov. Singson monthly ; (iv) that he is close to Jessie Viceo ; (v) that he knows Emma Lim, Vicente Amistad and Jamis Singson and that he gave money and/or a personalized check to Emma Lim, Vicente Amistad and Jamis Singson at his office in San Juan or at his house in Greenhills ; and (vi) that he asked Gov. Singson to exclude him from the expose .

Senator Jinggoy Estrada further testified that sometime in 2004, before he left for Australia in September of that year, Gov. Singson met with him at Kamayan Restaurant along EDSA and requested that he convince the President and/or Atong Ang to give the Bingo 2-balls franchise/license to Gov. Singson instead of to Gov. Singson’s political enemies. He did not speak with the President about Gov. Singson’s request .

Maribeth Escobar, an officer of the United Overseas Bank, identified the letter of Elma Gutierrez addressed Atty. Irene Jurado [Exhibit 234] certifying that then Mayor Jinggoy Estrada had no savings/current account with said bank whether active, dormant or closed .

Rosemarie San Gregorio and Josefina Ramos, then Mayor Jinggoy’s secretaries, testified that their functions as such includes logging all appointments and callers of the Mayor and to attend to his visitors before they are let in to see the Mayor. They denied knowing Emma Lim and stated that they saw her only on television and was surprised when they heard her testimony about collecting money from the Mayor’s office.

Susan M. Aviles and Noel Israel Buendia, private secretary and security guard of Ms. Guia Gomez, testified that they worked at the latter’s house and that their functions included screening visitors and their packages. They testified that there is no truth to Gov. Singson’s statement that he delivered money at the house of Ms. Gomez because he never went there.

Ma. Lourdes Florendo, one of the President’s private and confidential secretaries, denied receiving a black bag containing Php5 Million from Emma Lim. She testified that she does not know Emma Lim and was surprised to read about Emma Lim’s testimony at the impeachment proceedings . She testified that it was not possible for Emma Lim to enter the President Residence without undergoing a thorough security check by the presidential security guards because even those working within the Presidential Residence are subjected to such security measures . She further testified that it was not one of her functions to meet up with visitors of the President at the entrance – this is a function belonging to the protocol officers and not the secretaries . She further described the office set up within the Presidential Residence to show that Emma Lim’s description of it is wrong .

Dr. Jema B. David, the President’s dentist, testified on the security measures that she and her packages went through when she went to Polk St. and Malacanang to treat the President during his tenure as President.

Gen. Rodolfo Diaz, commanding officer of the Presidential escorts, testified on the security measures installed at Polk St. and at Malacanang. At Polk St., only the President’s car is allowed to park inside the gate and the guests as well as their packages are inspected by the guards and the EOD [the bomb experts]. Guests are made to wait in a room until the President is ready to receive them . At Malacanang, vehicles are checked upon entry; guests go through a walk-through metal detector; packages are put through an x-ray and are sniffed by dogs . There are no exceptions to the procedure save for the First Lady .

Pol. Chief Insp. Noel Vallo testified that on October 3, 2000 at around 11:00 p.m., while patrolling the streets of Manila, he and his companions saw a vehicle beat a red light at the intersection of T.M. Kalaw and Taft Avenue . They went after the vehicle and stopped it by cutting its path. They came to know then that Gov. Singson was inside the vehicle. After being stopped, Gov. Singson complained about being harassed . They radioed Pol. Supt. Rodolfo Azurin who thereafter arrived at the scene and led them all to the Western Police District Headquarters in Manila .

Pol. Supt. Rodolfo Azurin testified that he immediately went to San Marcelino St. after receiving the radio call of his men. He spoke with Gov. Singson in Ilocano and they agreed to proceed to the Western Police District Headquarters in Manila . At the said headquarters, they issued a traffic violation ticket to the driver of Gov. Singson and confiscated the blinkers/sirens found/attached to the vehicle . Gov. Singson complained to the media present that he was being harassed because of his objection to the Bingo 2-balls of PAGCOR .

Atty. Joseph Orsos, Chief of the Legal Services of the Traffic Management Group, identified the documents, records, reports filed by the police officers involved in the “San Marcelino incident”.

Pol. Supt. Arturo Paglinawan, testified that there is nothing in the blotter of the General Assignment Section concerning any complaint by Gov. Singson against the police officers involved in the “San Marcelino incident”.

Pol. Chief Supt. Eliseo Dela Paz, identified the Memorandum re: use of sirens/blinkers dated May 17, 1999 which he issued [Exhibit 364].

Joniro Fradejas, testified that there exists a traffic light at the intersection of T.M. Kalaw and Taft Avenue.

Pol. Chief Supt. Renato Paredes, identified the Memorandum on the apprehension of the motor vehicle of Gov. Singson dated October 4, 2000 which he issued [Exhibit 360].

Alicia Reyes, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PAGCOR, testified that Atong Ang previously handled Jai-alai for PAGCOR. Under Atong Ang’s management, PAGCOR earned Php9 Million a day whereas under PAGCOR’s management the income was only Php3 Million a day .

Sometime in August 2000, Atong Ang proposed that PAGCOR handle Bingo 2-Balls, a game which may displace jueteng. Upon her advise, Atong Ang submitted a written proposal [Exhibits 181 up to 181-J and Exhibits 286 up to 286-J] . The Board of Directors of PAGCOR, through the recommendation of Atty. Emila S. Padua [Exhibit 287], then authorized a negotiation with Atong Ang .

The terms of Atong Ang’s/Prominent Marketing’s management which was under negotiation were: 23% of the revenue will go to PAGCOR while 77% will go to the sales agents. Atong Ang/Prominent Marketing will get a percentage as management fee. The fee was initially 8% but PAGCOR reduced this to 7% then to 5% and finally to 2% [Exhibit 290] . The sales agents are required to deposit 150% of their daily sales figure with PAGCOR . Atong Ang/Prominent Marketing is required to guarantee payment by the sales agents .

Meetings were then held with persons knowledgeable about gaming operations for them to become sales agents of Bingo 2-Balls. Gov. Singson was among those invited to such meetings but he did not attend thus the sales agency was offered to other interested persons in Ilocos Sur. The brother, son and nephew of Gov. Singson applied for Ilocos Sur and were approved by PAGCOR .

Since it was standard operating procedure that operations of PAGCOR will need Presidential approval, she informed the President about the progress of Bingo 2-Balls and he approved its dry-run stating that if it will displace jueteng then he is all for it .

A dry-run was had in several provinces. In Bulacan, it lasted for 20 days while in the rest it lasted for 1-2 days. The dry-run was stopped because of criticisms .

Atty. Emilia Padua, Head of the PAGCOR Entertainment and Bingo Department, testified that she met Atong Ang when the latter went to see Chairman Alicia Reyes to propose the operation of Bingo 2-Balls. She was then tasked to discuss the project with Atong Ang . They brainstormed practically everyday and came up with procedural guidelines/rules which were approved by PAGCOR .

Under Bingo 2-Balls, bet collectors, runners and others will be employed by the sales agents – they will have a lawful and gainful employment .

Bingo 2-Balls’ dry-run lasted from September 18, 2000 to October 7, 2000 – the financial goals and objectives set were attained as shown in Exhibit 289 [PAGCOR shares based on reported sales quota] . However, Atong Ang/Prominent Marketing did not get his/its 2% share .

Ricardo Golpeo, General Manager of PCSO, testified that the President summoned him and Atty. Lopez [Chairman of PCSO] to Malacañang sometime in March 2000. At said meeting, the President asked them if anything could be done to stop jueteng which has become a big problem since the corruption has reached local officials and the PNP . Chairman Lopez then instructed him to handle the matter. He consulted Mr. Conrado Savella [Assistant General Manager of PCSO] who said that a similar game is needed to stop jueteng. Mr. Conrado Savella then began studying the mechanics of how to handle it – this was the last information he heard about the matter .

He also testified that he knows Gov. Singson. At a lunch meeting in October 2000, Gov. Singson requested from him Php55 Million for the purchase of medical and hospital equipment. He suggested that Gov. Singson get a marginal note from the President but the latter stated that he could not do that since the President slammed the phone on him the last time they spoke. Gov. Singson further told him of his [Gov. Singson’s] grievance that the Bingo 2-Balls was given to his [Gov. Singson’s] political enemies .

Dr. Danilo Reyes, a member of the Board of Trustees of Erap Muslim Youth Foundation [“EMYF”], a professor at the UP College of Public Administration, and Vice-President of the ERAP Foundation [also called the ERAP Para sa Mahirap Foundation] testified that ERAP Foundation was established to provide scholarship for poor but deserving students. ERAP Foundation has about 14,000 graduates as of the year 2000 .

He testified that EMYF was organized by Dr. De Guzman who told him that this is in line with the President’s vision of developing a new generation of Muslim leaders and will support it by making it one of the beneficiaries of the ERAP Golf Cup . He enumerated the incorporators of the foundation and testified on the circumstances of its registration with the SEC . He also identified the various SEC papers as well as other governmental licenses and permits issued to the EMYF [Exhibits 251 up to 261].

He testified that on March 22, 2000, at EMYF’s organizational meeting, officers were elected: Dr. De Guzman as Chairman, Atty. Edward Serapio as Secretary, Mr. George Go as Treasurer, Prof. Mila Reforma and himself as members of the Board [Exhibit 259]. Other meetings were held in the year 2000 [Exhibits 273 and 274]. Subsequent meetings were not possible until 2004 because Mr. Go resigned, Atty. Serapio was incarcerated and Dr. De Guzman underwent by-pass surgery . He identified the minutes of the meetings of the Board for January 16, 2004 [Exhibit 275] and the appointment papers of Mr. Michael Mendoza, Atty. Carina Demaisip, and Ms. Violeta Damitan [Exhibits 276, 277, and 278]. He also testified on subsequent meetings where (i) the scholarship program was discussed; (ii) several applicants were approved for scholarship; and (iii) negotiation with various schools was discussed and identified the documents relative thereto . He also added that the foundation started receiving applications for scholarship as early as 2000 and had already began discussing the program with the Mindanao State University .

He further testified that the foundation’s funding came from the contributions of the incorporators [a total of Php100,000.00] and the Php10 Million received by it from the ERAP Golf Cup . Sometime in April or May 2000, the foundation also received a Php200 Million donation. Atty. Serapio reported to the Board in its June 2000 meeting the donation and the donor’s request to remain anonymous .

Atty. Carina Demaisip and Violeta Damitan , Assistant Corporate Secretary and Executive Assistant of EMYF, testified on their duties and functions and identified minutes of meetings/documents relative to the scholarship of the various scholars of the foundation.

Salvador Domona , Sohayle Hadji Marangit , Janice Halim Negrosa , Roque Morales , scholars of the EMYF, testified on the circumstances of their application for scholarship, the approval thereof and its implementation. They also identified documents proving their status as scholars and their enrollment in graduate school.

Atty. Hilario Paul Ragunjan , notary public, brought to Court and identified an original copy of the letter of Mr. Rodolfo Pineda to the House Committee and Games and Amusements. In said notarized letter, Mr. Pineda disclaimed any involvement in jueteng. He also brought to court and identified his notarial book showing the entry therein of the notarization of the aforesaid letter [Exhibits 331-A and 331-B].

Eugene Macamasbad , from the PNP Legal Services, brought to Court and identified Memorandum Circular No. 2000-003 – about the directive against illegal gambling/jueteng. He also brought a certification that the original of Memorandum dated July 19, 2000, about the directive against illegal gambling/jueteng, could no longer be found at their office.

Marichu Villanueva , a reporter for the Philippine Star, testified on the circumstances of the press briefing conducted by Sec. Ricardo Puno which led to the publication of her article entitled “Palace backs Ping on Anti-Jueteng Drive”.

Atty. Ricardo Puno, Jr. , then Press Secretary of the President, who testified on the policy of the President to fight illegal gambling and on the circumstances of the press briefing which he conducted which led to publication of Ms. Villanueva’s article in the Philippine Star.

Norman Bordadora , a reporter for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, testified on the circumstances which led to the publication of his article “Chavit: I have never been into jueteng”.

Cong. Luis “Baby” Asistio testified that he had several meetings with Gov. Singson. At the Manila Peninsula hotel, Gov. Singson told him about his [Gov. Singson] grievance that the Bingo 2-Balls was given to his political opponents. At no time, however, did Gov. Singson mention to him anything about the alleged jueteng pay-offs .

Sen. Alfredo Lim testified that on October 7, 2000, he and Cong. Baby Asistio went to the house of Gov. Singson to ask him about the news accounts of the attempt on his life . Gov. Singson blamed the incident on Atong Ang and Gen. Panfilo Lacson . Gov. Singson also said that he is mad at Atong Ang because the latter gave the Bingo 2-Balls to his political enemies which will make him politically dead .

Sen. Edgardo Angara testified that sometime in September 2000, Gov. Singson went to his farm at Nasugbu, Batangas and requested him to speak with the President about the Bingo 2-Balls. Gov. Singson was requesting that the sales agency be not given to his political enemies because he would lose face. Gov. Singson also added that if his request would not be granted then “huwag na lang mag Bingo 2-Balls sa Ilocos” . Sen. Angara testified that he reported the matter to the President including Gov. Singson’s claim about jueteng pay-offs. The President denied having anything to do about Bingo 2-Balls and any involvement in jueteng pay-offs .

D I S C U S S I O N

I. JUETENG BRIBERY

Principal witness Singson had strong motive to get back at Pres. Estrada

It all started with efforts of the accused Pres. Estrada to eradicate jueteng, or to legalize a substitute form of lottery. When he became President, he launched a double-barreled campaign against jueteng: first, he issued directives to the police to pursue anti-illegal campaign without let up (Exhibits “130”, “131”, “132”, “134”, and “135”), and second, he asked several persons to study ways of legalizing jueteng. Among those asked to make such study was Alicia Reyes, then Chairman of the PAGCOR. According to Reyes, she asked Charlie (Atong) Ang to submit a written proposal, and the latter submitted a proposal called “Bingo 2-Balls” (Exhibits “181” to “181-J” and “286” to “286-J”). The proposal of Ang was later approved after study and a dry run in several provinces which lasted from September 18, 2000 to October 7, 2000. It was thus implemented in several provinces in Luzon, among them Ilocos Sur.

However, the implementation of Bingo 2-Balls in the province of Ilocos Sur met with a roadblock. The franchise for the new game was given to the political opponents of the Governor, Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson. A common friend of the accused and of Singson, then Congressman Luis A. Asistio, testified that Singson called him to a meeting at the Manila Peninsula Hotel, and complained that “they are putting my political opponents in place”. The governor then told the witness Asistio that Atong Ang was easing him out of Bingo 2-Balls. When Asistio relayed this to Pres. Estrada, however, the latter merely said, “wala na akong pakialam diyan, nasa PAGCOR na yan”.

The testimony of Cong. Asistio dovetails with that of Sen. Edgardo Angara, who was then Secretary of Agriculture. Angara testified that sometime in September, 2000, Singson went to see him and requested that he talk to Pres. Estrada that the sales agency of Bingo 2-Balls in Ilocos Sur should not be given to his (Singson’s) political opponents because he would lose face. Singson told him that if the agency for Bingo 2-Balls cannot be given to him, then “huwag na lang mag-Bingo 2-Balls sa Ilocos”. When Angara told this to Pres. Estrada, however, the latter merely denied having anything to do with Bingo 2-Balls. When Angara met again with Singson the following day and told him of Pres. Estrada’s attitude, Singson then asked Angara to talk to Atong Ang. He was able to talk to Atong Ang who said that he would study and consult with PAGCOR. According to Angara, it seemed that, at that time, the franchise of Bingo 2-Balls was already awarded to Eric Singson, a political enemy of Chavit Singson, and Chavit resented the idea of the franchise being awarded to an opponent.

Another witness, Senator Alfredo Lim, also testified that Singson was mad at Atong Ang, because the latter gave the franchise of the Bingo 2-Balls to his political enemies which will make him politically dead.

In fact, Singson himself testified that he asked Atong Ang to remove the license of Bingo 2-Balls for Ilocos Sur for Singson but instead, Atong Ang gave the license to Bonito Singson and Eric Singson, who were his political opponents in his province. Singson then protested to Pres. Estrada against the action taken by Atong Ang, but Pres. Estrada replied, “wala akong pakialam diyan”. So Singson shot back, “kung dahil lang diyan, pagkatapos ng lahat bibitawan mo ako, bibitaw na rin ako sa iyo”. Singson made a similar admission before the Impeachment Court (the Senate), saying that he was aggrieved because the Bingo 2-Balls project in Ilocos Sur was given to Bonito and Eric Singson. Thereafter, according to Singson, an attempt was made on his life in Manila, when two mobile patrol cars attempted to ambush him to prevent him from making an expose. It was shown, however, by the police who stopped him that he had ran a red traffic light and his car was seen equipped with a siren and blinker.

It is clear from the evidence that Singson has harbored deep and dark motives to testify against Pres. Estrada. Where, before, he was the political and jueteng overlord in his province, suddenly, jueteng would be replaced by a legitimate operation and the franchise would be given to, of all people, his political enemies. This would kill him politically and financially. And then, just as unexpectedly, he perceived that he would also be physically liquidated. It is therefore crucial to consider these strong motives of Singson to obviate the moves of Pres. Estrada by turning the tables on him and topple him from power.

To attain this objective, Singson spun a web of lies calculated not only to pave the way for the impeachment of the accused but also to put him behind bars. He spun the web of jueteng pay-offs and the tobacco excise tax scam. Fortunately for the accused, Singson’s fabrications are not only incredible, as will be shown below, but are also uncorroborated and full of inconsistencies.

Testimony of Singson comes from a polluted source, as Singson himself has confessed to covering up his crimes

Not only did Singson suffer from the strongest motive to concoct stories putting the accused in a bad light; he also, by his own admission, fabricated documents designed to exculpate himself in the tobacco excise tax scam. Thus, on cross-examination, he admitted having manufactured documents to cover-up his crimes, thus:

“Justice Pamaran: Will you agree with me that you were the one who caused this Certificate of Inspection to be signed by these persons who signed herein in blank?

AJ SANDOVAL: To be part of the cover-up?

Justice Pamaran: Yes, to be part of the cover-up? According to you, the alleged cover-up?

Singson: (Hindi ko po kilala sila na pinapirma o pinilit. Ang cover-up yong nakuha ko yang resibo, yon ang cover-up at lahat na ng buong dokumento, eh, kako, yon na ang cover-up.) I do not know them and I did not force them to sign sir. When I got the receipt, it is the cover-up, sir. I said all the documents are part of the cover-up, sir.”

The same admission was made by Singson before the Impeachment Court on January 3, 2001, where he admitted falsifying documents to cover unliquidated cash advances.

Indeed, Singson’s expertise at cover-up operations is not limited to mere manufacture of documents. The accused Pres. Estrada had testified that on July 24, 2000, when he was President, he was on a stop-over in San Francisco, California on his way to Washington D. C. when, unexpectedly, Gov. Singson, accompanied by Cong. Luis Asistio, sought him in his hotel room. Singson said he had a problem with the provincial COA Auditor of Ilocos Sur because the latter would not cooperate with Singson relative to the misuse of public funds amounting to P170 Million. Singson sought the help of Estrada to transfer the Auditor to another assignment but the latter said that he could not do that because the COA was an independent constitutional body. Singson insisted, saying, “ah, presidente ka naman eh, kaya mong gawin yan, tawagan mo lang yung chairman ng COA”. Estrada told Singson “the problem with you is that you are only looking after yourself, you should also look after the name of the Office of the President”. Gov. Singson then left angrily. This testimony was corroborated by that of Cong. Luis Asistio. Estrada later learned that the name of the provincial COA Auditor was Agustin Chan, and that later, Chan was ambushed and killed in a town in Ilocos Sur.

Some residents of Ilocos Sur, among them former partisans of Singson, were so shocked by the ambush of Agustin Chan that they sought the help of Atty. Estelita Cordero, a former candidate under the party of Singson and president of the Save Ilocos Sur Alliance (SISA), to study whether there was any basis for filing an action against the public officials based on the COA audit reports. After studying the audit reports from 1995-2000 (Exhibits “187” to “187-K-7”; “188” to “188-D-8”; “189” to “189-G-4”; “190” to “190-U-1”; “191” up to “191-E-1”; “194” to “194-E”; “185” to “185-H”) they filed criminal complaints against Singson and other officials. Of the seven complaints filed by SISA against Singson, five had been forwarded to the Special Prosecutor. Some of the complaints had been dismissed, but Cordero had filed for reconsideration.

Cordero also testified that Singson was the jueteng lord in Ilocos Sur and neighboring provinces. She knew this because when she was still in the good graces of Singson, she brought several people for employment and they were employed as jueteng personnel by operatives of Singson. One was appointed as “auditor”; two were counters of money, another as security guard at the base of jueteng operations.

As can be seen above, the record is replete with evidence that Singson, who was Governor of his province, willfully broke his oath of office, shamelessly betrayed the trust of his constituents, and engaged in nefarious criminal activities. His testimony does not deserve credence.

“So manifest is the danger of convicting one on evidence from a source confessedly corrupt and delivered by a witness to shield himself from merited punishment, that the judges, while explaining to the jury their right to convict on it alone, by way of caution advise them not to return a verdict of guilty unless it is corroborated by evidence from a purer source.”

‘Ledgers’ relied on by Singson are hearsay

Doubtless, in light of the above, the testimony of Singson should be treated as mere fabrications calculated not only to exculpate himself but also to implicate Pres. Estrada in the illegal collection of jueteng bribe money and pre-empt the latter from replacing jueteng with Bingo 2-Balls. He had embarked on a well-planned scheme to pass the blame to the accused complete with alleged “ledgers” on the amounts and dates of collections and delivery of bribe money coming from jueteng lords. Thus, the exhibits which Singson used allegedly to refresh his memory, namely, Exhibits “A-4” to “A-4-L-1”, “A8-A8-2”, “B8-B8-4”, “C8-C8-2”, “D8-D8-2”, “E8-E8-3”, “W7-W7-7”, “X7-X7-1”, “Y7-Y7-4”, “Z7-Z7-2”, and “Z8-Z8-8”, assuming that these are admissible, are unmitigated hearsay, self-serving, and not worthy of credence. These have been manufactured by Singson like the ‘liquidation’ documents concocted in the tobacco excise tax scam. As emphasized in the Objections and Comments (Re Prosecution’s Formal Offer of Exhibits), in light of Singson’s conduct, the “ledgers” were made solely for the purpose of using them in a litigation. The so-called “ledgers” identified by Singson cannot possibly be considered “books of account” under Section 43, Rule 130 of the Rules of Evidence, first, because according to Singson, most of these ‘ledgers’ were prepared by Ricaforte, not by him, and second, these were not properly identified. The general rule is that an entry is competent as original and independent evidence only when the enterer had personal knowledge of the facts entered, and when it was his duty to inform himself of the truth of the matters he has undertaken to record. If the entrant made the entries upon reports of another who had personal knowledge of the transactions reported by him, then the entrant ought to be produced and required to testify that he made the entries correctly in conformity with the reports, and his testimony should be supplemented by the one who made the reports, so that their combined testimony would be equivalent to the testimony of an entrant having personal knowledge. Thus, in a case where the plaintiff-appellee presented as exhibit an account prepared by the plaintiff himself showing the dates and amounts of alleged “vales” of the defendant issued in his favor, and there is no evidence to show that it is a true and correct copy taken from different entries in a book of accounts kept by the plaintiff, the Court held that the account of ‘vales’ was not competent evidence.

No evidence was presented that accused protected or tolerated jueteng

It should be noted that under Paragraph (a) of the Amended Information here, the thrust of the accusation is not that the accused received P545 Million from jueteng proceeds, but that it came from illegal gambling received or collected in consideration of ‘protection of illegal gambling’.

In the first place, no evidence was presented that jueteng was tolerated by the accused Pres. Estrada. On the contrary, the evidence is overwhelming that Pres. Estrada wanted to replace jueteng with Bingo 2-Balls, and that this was partially implemented in several Luzon provinces after it was approved by PAGCOR. Indeed, not a single person engaged in jueteng testified to show payments to the accused, or even to Singson. While Singson mentioned several names as jueteng operators, like Bong Pineda, Charing Magbuhos, Romy Lahara, Romy Pamatmat, Gov. Sanchez, Celso de los Angeles, and Jessie Viceo, not one of them was presented to testify. Nor did the prosecution present any evidence that the accused Pres. Estrada, or any other public officer, received tainted money in consideration of tolerating jueteng. While Singson stated that he gave money to the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation (EMYF), that money is still intact in the Equitable PCI Bank under the name of the Foundation. The Muslim Youth Foundation is a legitimate foundation that has been paying the tuition and other expenses of Muslim scholars, and maintains a principal office. It is illogical to argue that a foundation was used as a front for keeping tainted money in the form of cash, since the recipient can just hide the cash more easily. That the foundation could not have served as a front of Pres. Estrada is shown by the fact that the plunder charge against the trustees of the foundation was dismissed, except for Edward Serapio, by Joint Resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman dated April 4, 2001.

Foundation was a legitimate educational foundation aimed to assist Muslim youth

There is no doubt, however, that Pres. Estrada put up the EMYF to financially assist poor and deserving Muslim students. Before this, he had to put the ERAP Foundation which tendered scholarships to assist poor and bright students, and MOWELFUND, a foundation to assist the workers in the movie industry as well as scholars. The establishment of EMYF was part of his platform when he was campaigning for the presidency in 1998, and he reiterated this in his speech at Smokey Mountain on January 25, 1999. Again, in his speech at Angelicum Academy on January 28, 1999, in launching the Educational Re-entry Agenda of the Philippines (E.R.A.P.), he talked about the establishment of a graduate school scholarship program for poor but deserving Muslim students. Thereafter, the EMYF was incorporated, and the Board of Trustees, composed of educators and financiers, held its organizational meeting on March 22, 2000, and obtained all the necessary permits, certificates, clearances, and licenses. It even applied for and obtained an NGO certification, and was registered as a non-profit foundation at the BIR. The foundation later awarded scholarships to several Muslim students enrolled at Mindanao State University and other state institutions. More important, the whole amount of P200 Million principal remained untouched, as certified to by the Equitable PCI Bank. As of May 11, 2001, the EMYF had a total balance of P203,136,931.27.

Singson’s testimony replete with inconsistencies and lies

Because Singson’s testimony is made of pure cloth, there are obvious inconsistencies which justify the application of the cardinal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. In fact, Singson himself admits that he committed errors in making some entries in his ‘ledger’. The following illustrate some of the inconsistencies in the testimony of Singson, first, before the Impeachment Court, and afterwards, before this Honorable Court, with respect to his errors in his ‘ledger’ entries:

Impeachment Court

Sandiganbayan

Pages 124-125 of December 13, 2000 TSN

Atty. Marcelo: Paki tingnan mo po ulit yong dokumento na tinawag pong ledger or listahan na minarkahan po nang Exhibit “EE” hanggang “MM” at nag co-cover po nang November 1998 hanggang July 1999, sino po ba ang gumawa nitong ledger pong ito?

Singson: Ako po, your Honor, ang gumawa nito, Your Honor, katulong ko po yong mga nasa opisina ko po, Your Honor, November to July, Your Honor.

Atty. Marcelo: Nasisigurado mo ba na tama o accurate ang mga entrada na nakalagay sa ledger na yan na minarkahan na Exhibit “EE” to “MM”?

Singson: Tiyak ko po, your Honor, at sigurado ako dahil ako po ang gumawa nito, your Honor. Natatandaan ko po yung huling entrada rito, your Honor.

Atty. Marcelo: Sino po ba ang gumawa noong ledger na dala ni Yolanda Ricaforte na minarkahan pong Exhibit “C” to “C-12”?

Singson: Si Yolanda Ricaforte, your Honor, pero tini-check ko rin at sinusupervise lahat ito, your Honor.

Atty. Marcelo: At dahil ikaw ang nagsusupervise nakakasigurado ka na tama lahat ang entrada diyan?

Singson: Ito nga yong original, your Honor, nasisiguro ko lahat, your Honor, dahil tuwing dadalhin ko kay Pangulong Estrada tinitingnan kong mabuti ito, your Honor, dahil kung minsan istrikto ang Pangulong Estrada, your Honor. (emphasis supplied)
Pages 11-24 of August 21, 2002 TSN

Atty. Crescini: No, go over your ledger and tell us, is it not a fact that the amount of P26,650.00 which you told Senator Enrile as “tama po ito” is wrong because the correct computation should be P24,150,000.00?

Singson: That is correct, sir.

x x x

(several other erroneous ledger entries were pointed out)

Atty. Crescini: Since you claim you were not asked to correct those wrong computations, did you, at anytime during that hearing on October 13, 2000 or thereafter, ever tell Senator Enrile ay marami pong mali diyan pero hindi ko po maaaring isa-isahin, pero ang kabuuan po ay tama. Did you ever tell that to Senator Enrile during questioning? Or you never did?

Singson: No, sir, because I did not realize that this would be very important x x x.

Page 71 of August 21, 2002 TSN

Atty. Crescini: So what you are telling us is up to the time that you testified before the Impeachment Court on December 13, 14, 15, 19, 2000 and January 3, 2001, you were still very vague about exactly how much was the discrepancy or errors as far as the computation was concerned?

Singson: It was only when it was asked to be corrected there that I was able to look at them one by one. I was not really interested because I did not know that those minor errors were important. (emphasis supplied)

Pages 206-211 of December 13, 2000 TSN

Senator Enrile: Mr. Witness, puede po ba ninyong sumahin yong lahat noong figures na nasa ilalim noong Exhibit “EE-1”, November 1 to 15, at titingnan natin kung ito’y tumutugma ng P12,900,000.00 at gayon din yong November 16 to 30, Exhibit “EE-2” at titingnan natin kung tumutugma yong ng P13,750,000.00?

x x x

(Singson was permitted to use a calculator)

Singson: P11,400,000.00, your Honor.

Senator Enrile: Yung Exhibit “EE-1”?

Singson: Yes, your Honor.

Senator Enrile: So may error po ang dokumentong ito?

x x x

Singson: Tama, your Honor.

x x x

Singson: Ang addition ko po, your Honor, P12.750.

Senator Enrile: Samakatuwid may error po itong iyong summary dito, P13.750?

Mr. Singson: Tama po, your Honor.
(emphasis supplied)

Page 124 of December 15, 2000 TSN

Senator Biazon: From Exhibit “C-6-A” to Exhibit “C-12”, there is an increasing number of appearance of the X marks for every month. x x x Could you explain this, Governor?

x x x

Singson: Kaya nga po, pawala na po dito.

Pages 72-79 of August 21, 2002 TSN

Atty. Crescini: Who were the prosecutors you met with before you testified at the impeachment trial?

Singson: Atty. Marcelo and Atty. Sanidad.

x x x

Atty. Crescini: So what you are saying is during the more than five times that Atty. Marcelo talked to you he only dealt with the entries, and never asked you whether your computation was correct?

Singson: Yes, sir.

Pages 87-101 of September 9, 2002 TSN

Justice Pamaran: Please go over these ledgers prepared by Ricaforte. You will observe that starting February, 2000, there was already an “X” and you said that “X” stands for stoppage of collection. Do you agree with me?

Singson: [Hindi. Ang ibig sabihin niyan, walang koleksyon.] No, sir, that means there is no collection.

x x x

Senator Biazon: Ang ibig sabihin ng “X” …

Singson: Wala.

Senator Biazon: … wala ng koleksyon?

Singson: Oho.

Senator Biazon: Now, can I call your attention to “C-11”. On Exhibit “11-B”, July 16 to 31, mayroong makalagay dito, “Pangasinan stop operation.” Walang “X” iyong column, ano’ng ibig sabihin niyan?

Singson: Eto po iyong listahan na ni Ricaforte, Your Honor, ang … Pag stop operation, Your Honor, dapat wala na ito, baka nagkamali lang si Yolly.

x x x

Senator Biazon: Now, if you go down, iyong sa ibaba, 3.850—three million eight hundred fifty thousand, I assume this is the total of the columns that do not have “Xs”.

Singson: Tama, Your Honor.

Senator Biazon: Correct. Ang ibig sabihin, ang Pangasinan may koleksyon pa rin?

Singson: Mayroon, Your Honor.

Senator Biazon: Pero bakit nakalagay doon “Stop Operation”?

Singson: Hindi ko alam, Your Honor, ito, si Yolly ang gumawa nito, Your Honor. (emphasis supplied)

Pages 107-108 of January 3, 2001 TSN

Atty. Mendoza: Ngayon, noon pong isang session ng Senado noong kayo’y nagtestigo, si Senator Judge Biazon yata, kung maaalala ko, siya ang nagtanong sa inyo kung ano ang ibig sabihin nitong mga “X” nasa Exhibit “C-6”, “C-7”, “C-8”, “C-9”, “10”, “11” hanggang pong “12”. Pero ito namang mga X hindi ko naman makikita roon sa ibang exhibits, ano po. Ang akin pong pagkakatanda, hindi n’yo napaliwanag kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng “X”. Maaari po bang ipaliwanag ninyo ngayon?

Singson: Ito pong exhibit na ito, your Honor, ito na po ‘yong listahan ni Ricaforte, your Honor. Ang tsini-check ko lang noon yong nakokolekta niya at saka ‘yong napupunta sa Pangulong Estrada, tapos bahala na sila ni Presidente, your Honor.

Atty. Mendoza: Hindi po ba sabi ninyo kanina, e, kung ano ang dinidikta n’yo ‘yon ang sinusulat ni Yolanda Ricaforte? At noon namang nakaraan na session ang sabi naman ninyo “Under my direct supervision.” E, ngayon, ang ibig ho ba ninyong sabihin ay iba naman?

Singson: Hindi naman, Tama lang.

Atty. Mendoza: Tama ‘yon?

Singson: ‘Yong pag-uusapan natin ‘yong amount, ‘yon ang tsini-check ko, Your Honor, ‘yong “X” hindi ko na natsi-tsek kung ano ‘yong “X”.

Atty. Mendoza: Ah, sa madaling salita ganoon man at nagkaroon ng “X” ito at kayo ay tinitingnan naman ninyo ito kayo rin naman ang nagsasabi kung anong entrada dito, hindi ninyo mapaliwanag kung bakit mayroong “X” dito?

Singson: Ang—noong nasa kanya na ito, Your Honor, ang tinitingnan ko na lang ‘yong mga total para alam kong sabihin sa Pangulo Estrada, Your Honor. Tuwing nagde-deliver ako roon, sinasabi ko lang ‘yong koleksyon ng buwan-buwan, tapos na kay Yolanda Ricaforte na ‘yong record. ‘Yon ang sinasabi ko, Your Honor.
(emphasis supplied)
x x x
Singson: [Either nagkakagulo or delayed yong koleksyon, your Honor.] It means there is no collection, your Honor. It does not necessarily mean stoppage. Either there was no collection or there was delay in the collection.

x x x

Justice Pamaran: But you will agree with me and please look at your ledger that despite that the “X” mark signifies no collection, there are certain amounts opposite the province to where the “X” marked is stated? Certain amount?

Singson: [Yes, sir, dahil fix na nga itong mga kinolekta, eh. Pero nakasulat yan even before. So minamarkahan na lang kung walang collection.] Yes, sir. This is the fix amount to be collected even before and we only put X mark if there was no collection.

x x x

AJ Sandoval: What do you mean Governor?

Singson: Ang ibig sabihin ko po noon, kung anong probinsya po ang namarkahan ng X, kung anong probinsya ang namarkahan ng X.

AJ Sandoval: Hindi mo na na-check?

Singson: [Hindi ko na na-check kung anong probinsya ang namarkahan ng X. Hindi ibig sabihin yong X, kung ano ang minarkahan niya sa korteng X na probinsya, hindi ko na alam.] What I meant is that I have not checked anymore what province was marked as X. As to what province wherein they put the mark X, I did not check it anymore. (emphasis supplied)

Then, with respect to the amount of P123 Million deposits which, according to Singson, he transferred the accumulated deposits to Yolanda Ricaforte, the glaring inconsistency can be seen between what he stated in his affidavit of September 25, 2000 and his testimony before both the Impeachment Court and before the Honorable Court. In his affidavit, he deposed:

Affidavit
Dated 25 September 2000

Paragraph number 5

On or about the first week of August 1999, President Estrada instructed me to transfer the accumulated deposits in my account to Yolanda Ricaforte. I complied with his instructions and turned over the accumulated deposits amounting to P123 Million to Mrs. Ricaforte, who in turn deposited the same to various accounts in Equitable Bank. x x x

Impeachment Court
Sandiganbayan

Pages 223-226 of December 13, TSN

Sen. Biazon: x x x Isa pong clarification lamang. Itong sa Exhibit “MM”, specifically “MM-15”, I think, ‘yong nasa huli, ‘yong 123 million. Tama po ba ito, Governor?

Singson: Tama po, Your Honor.

Sen. Biazon: All right. Ito po ba’y na-kanino ngayon?

Singson: Nalipat ko na kay Yolly Ricaforte. Dito nagtapos ‘yong listahan ko, Your Honor, na pinalipat ni Pangulong Estrada kay Yolanda Ricaforte – sa account ni Yolanda Ricaforte na nandito na rin ‘yong mga accounting noong Fontainbleau, ‘yong pinatayo ni Presidente na casino, Your Honor.

Sen. Biazon: Ang ibig sabihin – ito po ba’y noon ilipat ninyo kay Yolanda Ricaforte ibinigay ninyo ng in the form of check or cash?

Singson: Ang matatandaan ko po, Your Honor, ‘yong 70 million na galing kay Gatchalian at saka 34 million na hindi na namin kinobra sa Fontana dahil napunta rin kay Pangulong Estrada ‘yong Fontana, Your Honor.

x x x

Sen. Biazon: Itong lahat po ay … ‘yong kay Gatchalian tseke?

Singson: Yes, Your Honor.

Sen. Biazon: ‘Yong natitira, tseke pa rin ang ibinigay kay Yolanda Ricaforte?

Singson: Tseke ‘yong iba, your Honor, iba cash, Your Honor.

Sen. Biazon: Magkano ‘yong cash?

Singson: Hindi ko na matandaan, Your Honor. Pero 123 million ang tinarn (turn) over ko sa kanya, Your Honor. (Emphasis supplied)

Pages 190-191 of January 3, 2001 TSN

Sen. Cayetano: Kanina may nabanggit ka na itong 123 na ibinigay mo kay Presidente Estrada pero sa affidavit mo sinasabi mo itinurnover ko kay …

Singson: Nakaharap ho si President noon, Your Honor. Binigay ko kay Ricaforte.

Sen. Cayetano: Paliwanag lang, Governor, para maliwanagan natin. Dito sa affidavit mo sinabi mo itinurnover mo 123 million ‘no pero sinasabi mo eh parang kay Pangulo mo ibinigay iyon. Papaano? Ekplanasyon lang.

x x x

Singson: Noong binigay ko itong 123 million, Your Honor, nakaharap po si Pangulong Estrada at saka si Yolanda Ricaforte, Your Honor. So, tinurn over (turned over) ko sa kanya lahat itong kuwentang ito …

Sen. Cayetano: Sino ‘yong siya?

Singson: Si Presidente, Your Honor, si Pangulong Estrada, doon kami sa Malacañang noon, Your Honor, at binigay ko lahat ito, Your Honor, mga tseke. So, ito po, Your Honor, bago ko binigay in audit na ni Yolanda Ricaforte noon, Your Honor. Kaya nga nagbigay ako ng tseke noon na seventeen million two hundred ten at saka iyong mga ibang resibo. Ang malaki rito, Your Honor, is seventeen million two hundred ten, iyong 70 million na galing kay Gatchalian, Your Honor.

Sen. Cayetano: Papaano napapunta kay Ricaforte iyang perang 123 million?

Singson: Ah, nakaharap po ang Pangulong Estrada noong binigay kong lahat, Your Honor. Tapos eh pinakita ko kay Pangulong Estrada at binigay ko kay Ricaforte, Your Honor.

Pages 144-151 of July 29, 2002 TSN

Atty. Acut: Governor Singson, you testified on direct examination that sometime in August of 1999, you handed over to Yolanda Ricaforte certain checks and some cash in the total amount of One Hundred Twenty Three Million. Do you recall that Governor?

x x x

Singson: Yes, sir.

Atty. Acut: Of the total amount of One Hundred Twenty Three Million, how much was cash?

Singson: [Ang karamihan po tseke, ang cash po, official receipts at cash less than a million po, ang cash at resibo po kakaunti lang.] There was a little cash less than One Million and there were official receipts. There were little amount of cash, some are official receipts together with the cash, less than One Million and the rest are checks.

x x x

Atty. Acut: Now Governor Singson, on direct examination did you say that Atty. Edward Serapio was present when you handed over the checks and cash to Yolanda Ricaforte?

Singson: Yes, sir.

x x x

Atty. Acut: And in the impeachment trial, did you testify that you turned over to Yolanda Ricaforte certain checks and some cash in the amount of One Hundred Twenty Three Million.

Singson: Yes, sir.

Atty. Acut: But you did not say that Atty. Serapio was present when you handed over the checks and some cash to Yolanda Ricaforte, did you in the impeachment trial, Governor Singson.

x x x

Singson: [Ang pagkakaalam ko lang po Your Honors dahil nuong impeachment po naguguluhan po ako nuon dahil ginugulo po ano nuong mga Senador na may malasakit kay dating Pangulong Estrada, so ang impression ko po na nabanggit ko, pero naruon si Atty. Serapio nuon ng ideliver ang One Hundred Twenty Three Million Your Honor.] What I know was that I was confused during the impeachment trial because I was being confused by some of the Senators who were – who has sympathy for President Estrada but I know Atty. Serapio was present, Your Honors. (Emphasis supplied)

Again, with reference to the two checks of P1 million each given to Senator John Osmeña and Sen. Teresita Aquino-Oreta, the inconsistency of Singson is matched only by his belated attempt to massage his earlier testimony, and said that the two checks were “protection money” – instead of ‘mahjong’ – winnings.

Impeachment Court

Sandiganbayan

Pages 183-184 of December 13, 2000 TSN

Atty. Marcelo: Iyong pong susunoed na entrada ay “2.000 Tessie and Sonny” at minarkahan na po ito ng Exhibit “JJ-6”. Ano po ang ibig sabihin naman nito?

Singson: Two million, Your Honor, tig-iisang milyon si Senator Tessie Oreta at saka si Senator Sonny Osmeña, Your Honor, tig-wa-one million po sila, Your Honor, pinabigay ni Pangulong Estrada.

x x x

Atty. Marcelo: Alam n’yo po ba kung bakit po sila pinabigyan ni Presidente ng halagang ito?

Singson: Balato po nila, Your Honor.

Atty. Marcelo: Galing po saan?

Singson: Sa mahjong, your Honor. Panalo po si Presidente nuon diyan, Your Honor. (Emphasis supplied)

x x x

Atty. Marcelo: Ano po ang partisipasyon nila, kung mayroon man, dito sa paglalaro po ng mahjong ni Presidente Estrada?

Atty. Mendoza: We object, objection, Your Honor. Its immaterial, Your Honor. Actually, this testimony regarding Senators Osmeña and Oreta are irrelevant, there is no representation that this came from jueteng money.

CJ Davide: The Presiding Officer resolves in favor of the objection, the objection is sustained. Make another question.

Pages 110-114 of July 22, 2002 TSN

Sol Gen. Marcelo: The next entry reads: 2.00 Tessie and Sonny, what is the meaning of this entry?

Singson: Two million pesos binigay ko kay Senator Tessie Oreta and Senator Sonny Osmeña balato rin po nila sa majong, Sir, tig one million po sila.

x x x

Sol Gen. Marcelo: Mr. witness, just to clarify what is the source of the money that funded these two checks given to Senator Oreta and Senator Osmeña?

Singson: Galing po sa protection money ng jueteng, Sir. (Emphasis supplied)

No independent corroborating evidence to Singson’s testimony

Furthermore, there is no credible corroborating evidence to the testimony of Singson. While the prosecution put up two employees of Singson, Emma Lim and Carmencita Itchon, to corroborate Singson’s accusation, the words of these two employees cannot be taken at face value, since they are a polluted source and they are accomplices in the criminal enterprise hatched up by Singson.

Indeed, the testimony of Emma Lim has been shown to be fabricated. First, she falsely stated before the Impeachment Court that Singson was not staying at the LCS Building contrary to her initial statement in this Court, until she was forced to retract when she was confronted with her testimony before the Senate. Second, she also said in the Impeachment Court that the sala set in the Office of the President is located at the left side in relation to an incoming visitor, and this has been shown to be false by the testimony of Pres. Estrada’s secretary, who testified that the sala set was located at the right side, and it was at this side that the President received visitors. Third, Emma Lim claimed in her testimony before this Honorable Court that she merely carried P5 Million in a bag when she entered the Malacañang Office of the President, and she was not even required to pass through the X-ray machine – “Basta pinapasok na lang nila ako sa gate at tinuro na po sa akin yung Presidential residence, sir.” This is not worthy of credence because it has been shown that all visitors to the presidential residence including their belongings are required to pass through the X-ray machine. In fact, even members of Pres. Estrada’s family, like his son, Jinggoy and his wife, Loi, had to pass through the metal detector and the X-ray machine because there was no other passage into Malacañang. Defense witness Maria Lourdes Florendo also vehemently denied having received a black bag from Emma Lim containing money. In fact, according to her, she does not know Emma Lim.

As for the testimony of Carmencita Itchon, it should also be received with caution, considering her close relationship with Singson. She has deliberately violated her oath as a CPA, and has shown her bias against the accused. She owed her job to Singson, she is from the same town as Singson and her elder sister is married to the younger brother of Singson, and her deceased brother was married to the sister of Singson. In fact, she had joined Singson in press conferences called by the latter to denounce Pres. Estrada, and after Estrada was deposed, she was rewarded with a directorship of the John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation. She was also invited by Pres. Arroyo as a guest at a dinner party in Malacañang to celebrate the deposing of Pres. Estrada.

Summing up, the principal witness as well as his corroborating witnesses, are particeps criminis in the crime they have attributed to the accused. Their testimonies cannot be relied on by the Honorable Court:

“When a number of parties have been arrested, there is always a strong temptation to throw the blame on each and other, and to buy immunity by evidence; and the stronger the suspicions are against one, the greater is the temptation because he has less chance of escape in any other way.”

STATEMENT OF FACTS

II. MISAPPROPRIATION OF R.A. 7171 FUNDS

In the second paragraph of the amended information in Criminal Case No. 26558, the prosecution charges the accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada with the crime of Plunder “by diverting, receiving, misappropriating, converting or misusing directly or indirectly, for his or their personal gain and benefit, public funds in the amount of One Hundred Thirty Million Pesos (Php130,000,000.00), more or less, representing a portion of the Two Hundred Million Pesos (Php200,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax share allocated for the Province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, by himself and/or in connivance with co-accused Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Alma Alfaro, John Doe a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, and Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and other John Does and Jane Does.”

A. The Prosecution’s Evidence

In proving its case that President Estrada had, directly or indirectly, received Php130 Million from the tobacco excise tax funds, the prosecution presented six (6) witnesses: ex-Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, Ma. Elizabeth Balagot, Caridad M. Rodenas, Federico Artates, Jamis Singson, and Ma. Ilonor Madrid.

Mrs. Balagot and Mrs. Rodenas, both branch managers of LandBank, testified on the paper trail and factual circumstances relative to the transfer of Php130 Million from LandBank Vigan to LandBank Shaw, the encashment of Php40 Million by accused Alma Alfaro, and the preparation of three (3) manager’s checks of Php30 Million each in favor of accused Eleuterio Tan.

Chavit Singson alleged on the witness stand that he agreed to give ten percent (10%) of all releases from tobacco excise tax funds to President Estrada ; that accused Atong Ang had given him 3 names (those of accused Alfaro, Rajas and Tan) for the Php130 Million to be encashed in Manila ; that he and Atong Ang proceeded to the residence of President Estrada at Polk Street, North Greenhills on 31st August 1998 to deliver the money; and that he confirmed that President Estrada received the money when the latter asked how much he (Chavit) had given him .

Messrs. Artates and Singson testified that they were present when the money from Westmont Bank (in the amount of Php90 Million) was withdrawn by accused Eleuterio Tan, loaded onto a van, and brought to the house of Atong Ang’s mother on 31st August 1998, prior to its transport to Polk Street on the same day.

Ms. Madrid merely identified the picture of Mr. Jose Victor Tan Uy as the same appears in the computer records of the Land Transportation Office.

B. Defendants’ Evidence

On the other hand, the defense presented eight witnesses, aside from the accused President Estrada, to prove that it was the principal witness, Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, who had actually misused the funds from R.A. 7171, and that he falsified documents to cover up his misuse of such funds.

The accused President Estrada testified that, like the jueteng bribery charge, this accusation of misappropriation was politically motivated on the part of Gov. Singson. According to the accused, it was Gov. Singson who took the money and that the latter was just passing on the blame to him. President Estrada said that during the campaign for the presidency in 1998, Singson asked him to include the release of R.A. 7171 in his campaign speeches, so he promised the farmers in Ilocos Sur that he will give them what was due to them. After the 1998 elections, Singson went to him in Malacañang and the latter reminded him of his promise to the farmers. He then told Singson to write a formal letter and he would approve the request. When Singson produced the letter, President Estrada indorsed it to Sec. Benjamin Diokno in a marginal note. He did not know what happened to the note afterwards.

The accused President Estrada denied having asked for 10% of the Tobacco fund; he had never asked for a percentage from any one. In fact, he refused a $14 Million ‘kickback’ from IMPSA in consideration for a sovereign guaranty because he knew that this would be a burden to the people; with more reason would he refuse to get from the farmers.

President Estrada admitted that Gov. Singson was a political ally, but he is not a close friend. He denied having requested Singson’s help in recovering his (Estrada’s) election expenses; in fact, contributions to his election coffers were already overflowing three months before the elections. After the elections, President Estrada ordered the distribution of the excess contributions to members of his party, and even Singson got a big share.

The accused, President Estrada admitted that he knew Atong Ang, but he denied that the latter delivered P130 Million to his house. He also denied that his wife, Sen. Loi Estrada, was given a portion of that money. Neither was his son and co-accused, Jinggoy Estrada, given a part of that money.

President Estrada also said that it was impossible for Atong Ang to have delivered it in his residence at Polk Street since he was no longer residing there at the time of alleged delivery. Furthermore, he noted that the re-enactment of the delivery in the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas showed that the P130 Million could not be contained in the four boxes and that Atong Ang could not carry 2½ sacks of rice (the equivalent weight of P130 Million).

According to the accused President Estrada, it was Singson who covered up the cash advances because of the Commission on Audit disallowance, and then Singson tried to pass on the blame to him. The NBI filed complaints for plunder, malversation of public funds, falsification, violation of R.A. 3019 and of R.A. 7160 against Singson.

The last time that President Estrada saw Gov. Singson was in San Francisco. The latter was accompanied by Cong. Asistio. Singson told Estrada that he (Singson) had a problem because the Provincial COA Auditor, whom he later learned to be Agustin Chan, would not cooperate with Singson, so he asked for the help of Estrada so that Chan could be transferred. Estrada told him that he could not do that because the COA is an independent constitutional body. Singson insisted that Estrada could do that – all that was needed was to talk to the chairman. Estrada answered that “the problem with you is that you are only looking after yourself, you should also look after the name of the Office of the President.” Singson then left angrily. Estrada later learned that Agustin Chan was ambushed and killed in Ilocos Sur.

The other accused, Jinggoy Estrada, son of President Estrada, denied receiving any portion of the P130 Million tobacco excise tax.

Atty. Agaton Dacayanan, the Provincial Auditor of Ilocos Sur from 1995-1999, testified that he prepared and submitted the Annual Audit Report for the years 1995 (Exhibit “187”), 1996 (Exhibit “188”), 1997 (Exhibit “189”), and 1998 (Exhibit “190”) of the Province of Ilocos Sur, all of which show the improper use of RA 7171 funds by Singson.

Elvira Felix, who was the Officer-in-Charge of the Special Audit Office of the COA, and who served as Auditor for Ilocos Sur from October 2000 to July 2001, testified that the Provincial Auditor of Ilocos Sur at the time the Special Audit Reports for 1999 and 2000 was Atty. Agustin Chan and that the latter was killed in an ambush on October 4, 2001 . She prepared and submitted the Special Audit Report on Ilocos Sur for the year ending December 31, 2001 (Exhibit “192”) where she made findings on the misuse of RA 7171 funds and on the unliquidated cash advances of Singson ; for the year ending December 31, 2002 (Exhibit “193”), where she also had findings on the unliquidated cash advances of Singson.

Bonifacio Ona was Officer-in-Charge of the Special Audit Office of the COA for Ilocos Sur during the tenure of accused President Estrada. He testified that he was familiar with the Special Audit Report No. 99-31 on Ilocos Sur for the years 1996-1999 (Exhibit “191”) showing how funds from R.A. 7171 were misappropriated by Gov. Singson, and that he had failed to liquidate his cash advances.

Elizabeth M. Savella was a member of the Special Audit Team that prepared Special Audit Report No. 99-31 (Exhibit “191”). This Team looked into the utilization of R.A. 7171 funds, and it found out that the tomato paste processing plant was overpriced by P41,127,537.51; that the cash advance of P190 Million given to Gov. Singson was in violation of COA Circular No. 97-002 dated February 10, 1998; that two cash advances were given to Gov. Singson for the payment of a tobacco flue-curing barn; that several documents were submitted by Gov. Singson in liquidation of the cash advances he had obtained. These documents consisted of (1) Resolution No. 99, Series of 1998, appropriating P200 Million of RA 7171 funds for payment of flue-curing barns, a re-drying plant, infrastructure projects, post-harvest facilities (Exhibits “137-A” to “137-C”; also marked as Exhibit “43-B” by de oficio counsel); Purchase Request No. 783 (Exhibit “137-G”); Purchase Orders dated August 31, 1998 (Exhibit “137-I” and Exhibit “137-J”); Request for Allocation of Allotment in the amount of P170 Million (Exhibit “137-D”); Acceptance of Delivery No. 18220 dated September 9, 1998 (Exhibits “137-L” and “137-M”); Certificate of Inspection re Flue Curing Barns (Exhibits “137-N” to “137-O”); Memorandum of Agreement between the Province of Ilocos Sur and NS International (Exhibits “137-P” to “137-Q”); Memorandum Receipt re Flue Curing Barns (Exhibit “137-R”); Disbursement Voucher in the amount of P170 Million (Exhibits “137-S”, “137-T”, and “137-V”); Notice of Funding dated August 25, 1998 (Exhibit “137-X”); Disbursement Voucher in the amount of P100 Million (Exhibit “138”); and Landbank Check dated August 24, 1998 in the amount of P200 Million (Exhibit “137-Y”). The alleged vendor, NS International, issued receipts for the amount, Official Receipt No. 62 dated August 31, 1998 (Exhibit “43-F”) and Official Receipt No. 002 dated March 19, 1999 (Exhibit “197”). Officials of the Province executed a Certificate of Delivery and of Acceptance (Exhibit “43-L”) as well as a Certificate of Inspection (Exhibit “43-K”).

A former congressman, Luis A. Asistio, testified that he has been a friend of Gov. Singson for 40 years, and that on July 24, 2000, he saw the latter at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, and Asistio brought him to the room of accused Pres. Estrada. Singson asked Estrada to relieve the COA Auditor of Ilocos Sur then, Agustin Chan, but the accused Estrada refused. On another occasion, Singson met Asistio at the Peninsula Hotel and the latter complained that the accused was putting his (Singson’s) political opponents in place with respect to Pagcor.

Atty. Carlos Saunar, formerly Chief of the NBI Anti-Graft Division from 1997 up to 2001, testified that, on orders of the Secretary of Justice, he and his NBI Team investigated the disclosures made by Gov. Singson. After evaluating the COA reports and the documents submitted by Gov. Singson to the COA, he recommended to the Secretary of Justice, in a letter dated December 12, 2000 (Exhibit “201”) the filing of criminal charges for plunder and/or malversation against Gov. Singson in connection with the P170 Million cash advance from R.A. 7171 funds. The NBI also filed another case against Gov. Singson on December 14, 2000 in connection with another cash advance.

Atty. Estelita D. Cordero, a private practitioner from Ilocos Sur who knows Gov. Singson, organized a movement, Save Ilocos Sur Alliance (SISA) with the help of some provincemates after the COA Auditor, Atty. Agustin Chan, was ambushed and killed. They filed seven criminal complaints against Singson with the Ombudsman. These seven complaints against Singson are all pending resolution.

DISCUSSION

Testimony of Gov. Singson on withdrawal and delivery of money patently incredible

The testimony of the lone witness on the alleged delivery of money (P130 Million) to the principal accused is obviously spun out of pure cloth. This is obvious from the inconsistencies, uncertainties, and gaps that permeate Gov. Singson’s testimony:

First, Singson admitted on cross-examination, that the accused President Estrada, had never asked him personally to give him said amount. According to Singson, “in fairness to the President, siguro hindi niya alam si Atong Ang ang nagsasabi nito”.

Second, Singson testified that he did not see the delivery of the money (P130 Million) to Atong Ang, he did not know who delivered it, and he was not even sure of the time it was delivered. Singson admitted on cross-examination:

“Atty. Crescini: Alright what time was the first delivery?

Singson: [Hapon na, sir, hindi ko na alam kung anong oras yon.] It was in the afternoon, sir, I do not know the exact time.

Atty. Crescini: And who made the first delivery?

Singson: [Hindi ko na alam, sir, sinabi lang ni Atong Ang na dumating ng lahat yong pera so tayo na at dalhin na natin sa Pangulong Estrada.] I do not know, sir, but Mr. Atong Ang just told me that all the money arrived and let us bring to President Estrada.

Atty. Crescini: Did you see the arrival of this money?

Singson: [Ako, sir, hindi pero may mga witnesses.] Myself, no, sir, but there are witnesses.

x x x

Singson: [Mayron lang akong napansin ho, sir, na idinaan sa likod ko yong plastic bag o bayong, pero hindi pa kami umalis nuon hinihintay pa namin ang iba.] I only noticed one sir, a plastic bag or bayong which was passed behind me but we did not go yet because we are still waiting for some others.”

Third, Singson himself admitted that he had no proof that the P130 Million was delivered to the principal accused. On cross-examination, he stated:

“Atty. Crescini: Now, of course this alleged trip to Polk Street with Atong Ang and yourself supposedly with the money, whether One Million Thirty Million or short of it, you have proof of it.

Singson: [Baka may mga witnesses, sir.] There might be witnesses, sir.

x x x

Atty. Crescini: Who are those witnesses, were they allegedly present when you were allegedly there with Atong Ang and delivered the money?

Singson: Hindi ko po alam, sir, siguro ang prosecution alam nila.

x x x

Atty. Crescini: So apart from yourself and Atong Ang, who allegedly went to the house of the President at Polk St., you do not recall of any outsider who could corroborate or attest to all these claims about the delivery or non-delivery of the money to Mr. Estrada.

Singson: [Hindi ko alam sa mga abogado, sir, kung magpe-present ng mga witnesses.] I do not know with my lawyers Your Honors if they will be presenting witnesses.” (emphasis supplied)

Fourth, Singson’s hearsay narration of the alleged delivery of the P130 Million is unworthy of belief. He said that when they got near Polk Street where the residence of the accused is located, he was asked to go down so that they will not be obvious because there were many people; he was told to follow after about 15 or 20 minutes. Yet in the same breath, Singson said that he saw Atong’s car enter the house, when it was shown that the distance between the street corner and the house of the accused was more or less 100 meters, and it was also shown that, at that time, after the election of the accused as President, private cars were not allowed to enter the residence of the accused anymore. Thus, the security guard at the Polk Street residence of the accused, Benedicto Flores, testified that only the presidential car and the car of Dra. Loi Estrada, were allowed to enter the compound, and that Atong Ang’s vehicle could not have entered the gate. Dr. Jema Baula David, a dentist who treated President Estrada on July 22, 1998, testified to the same effect.

Further, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has acknowledged that P130 Million in new P1,000 bills would weigh 130 kilos (which is equivalent to two sacks of rice). The P130 Million could not have been containd in four boxes and which Atong Ang could not have physically carried into the house of the accused. This is not to mention the attention of all the people inside the house which such an unusual event would have drawn, and which, according to Singson, they were trying to avoid.

Fifth, President Estrada has stated that, at the time of the alleged delivery by Singson and Ang, August 31, 1998, he no longer resided in Polk Street, as he had moved to the Presidential Residence in Malacañang.

Sixth, the documentary evidence all point to the fact that it was Singson himself who misappropriated the entire amount. The prosecution’s witness, Ma. Elizabeth Gozo-Balagot, confirmed (as supported by documents) that Singson had first tried to withdraw the whole amount of P170 Million in his name (Please see Exhibit “137-E”, Land Bank check dated August 27, 1998 for P170 Million) . Singson’s own representatives, Maricar Paz and Marina Atendido, applied with the Land Bank for five demand drafts and requested that the said drafts be prepared in the name of Singson. When this was disallowed as against bank requirements, Maricar Paz then instructed the bank to prepare the drafts in the name of Delia Rajas, Alma Alfaro, and Eleuterio Tan. Indeed, Balagot also declared that it was Maricar Paz who gave her the names of Rajas and Alfaro. On August 28, 1998, she called Singson to inform him that Rajas and Tan were in Westmont Bank trying to deposit their demand drafts, and on her first call to Singson, the latter told her that it was okay with him. On her second call to Singson, she told the latter that Rajas and Tan were trying to encash their demand drafts at the Shaw Boulevard branch of Land Bank, and Singson told her: “Kung ano ang gusto nila, yon ang gawin mo”. According to Balagot, she called Singson and not Maricar Paz because she knew that it was Singson who was giving instructions to Paz. And, lastly, Singson stated that when he was in the house of Catalina Ang on August 31, 1998, he noticed that Atong Ang had left some money allegedly withdrawn from Westmont Bank in the house. He did not even ask Ang why he left some money in the house, or how much money was left behind.

The prosecution’s remaining evidence reveal Chavit Singson’s complicity in the withdrawal of the tobacco excise tax funds; nothing more.

A careful scrutiny of the documentary exhibits of the prosecution in proving its case under this paragraph will reveal that the criminal acts attributed to the accused were committed by Governor Singson and his authorized representatives, not by accused. As admitted by him under oath, Gov. Singson was the one who took the money from the Province of Ilocos Sur. There is absolutely no evidence, even taking into account his own testimony, that Gov. Singson took PhP130 Million from the Province of Ilocos Sur upon the inducement of accused President Estrada. There is, of course, not even any suggestion that it was President Estrada who took the PhP130 Million from the Province of Ilocos Sur. Please note the following circumstantial evidence, presented by the prosecution, purportedly linking the accused to the scam.

First, the DBM Notice of Funding Check proves that the DBM issued a PhP200 Million check in favor of the province of Ilocos Sur. However, from the document itself, the check was issued on 24th August 1998, or seventeen (17) days (and not “barely two (2) weeks”, as the prosecution claims) after the DBM received the letter-request from Gov. Singson (Exhibit “Q8”). Nothing in the document proves or gives any indication that President Estrada was interested in the funds thereby.

Second, the Land Bank certification in respect of the PhP130 Million merely proves that the total amount of PhP130 Million was deposited into the accounts of accused Alfaro, Rajas and Tan during the period 27th and 28th August 1998. It does not prove that such transfers were “(i)n pursuit of the request of accused Joseph Estrada to have a share of the funds thus released”.

It may not be amiss to note that it was Gov. Singson’s representatives, Maricar Paz and Marina Atendido, who gave the names Alfaro, Rajas and Tan to the branch manager, Mrs. Elizabeth Balagot (see Exhibit “B19”), who later confirmed that neither President Estrada nor accused Charlie Ang was mentioned as having any participation or interest in the amounts transferred.

It is ridiculous for the prosecution to claim that “(t)he amount of Php130 Million was, in fact, deposited by inter-branch credit and went into the accounts of these private persons and, eventually to accused Joseph Estrada, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Atong Ang, and Luisa Ejercito”, since this exhibit cannot support, much less prove that conclusion, since none of these individuals’ names and/or signatures appear on the face of this exhibit.

Third, the documents obtained by then Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. during the impeachment trial merely prove that the picture of Victor Jose Tan Uy appears on a Solid Builders Centre identification card, which bears the name of “Eleuterio Tan”. However, these documents do not prove that accused Tan Uy had assumed the name of Eleuterio Tan, for it is possible that somebody had merely placed the picture of Mr. Tan Uy on the identification card without the former’s knowledge and consent. There is no testimony from any prosecution witness that the signature of “Eleuterio Tan” found on the identification card was done by Mr. Tan Uy. Thus, the prosecution’s conclusion that Mr. Tan Uy and accused Eleuterio Tan are one and the same person has no basis in fact.

No prosecution witness had testified on the identities of accused Alma Alfaro and Delia Rajas. Even the individual who assumed the name of ‘Delia Rajas’ was never identified. How, then, could the prosecution conclude that a conspiracy existed between accused Ang, Alfaro, Tan, and Jane Doe @ Delia Rajas? Save for the association between Mr. Tan Uy and accused Charlie Ang in Power Management and Consultancy Inc., no prosecution witness testified that accused Charlie Ang had assisted Mr. Tan Uy in the transfer/withdrawal of the moneys withdrawn by “Eleuterio Tan”. Surely, the prosecution cannot pin both accused Ang and Mr. Tan Uy through their mere association in one company.

Fourth, the LTO certification testified to by witness Mr. Illonor Madrid merely proves that Mr. Victor Jose Tan Uy secured a driver’s license from the LTO and, necessarily, has a photograph filed with said office. This certification and picture are, therefore, immaterial in proving the facts of this case.

Fifth, the various SSS Employer Data of Mr. Atong Ang’s companies are totally irrelevant to the case against all the accused. There are no incriminatory connections between these exhibits and the accused Estradas in respect of the charges in the amended information. Neither the Estradas’ names nor signatures appear on these documents. For sure, no prosecution witness testified that the accused Estradas had anything to do with the organization and management of the corporations mentioned in these documents.

The SSS documents of a “Delia Ilan Rajas” are totally immaterial, since the accused in this case is “Jane Doe @ Delia Rajas”. The “Delia Rajas” whose SSS documents are being offered as exhibits by the prosecution is indeed an employee of the Ang family. However, she is NOT the same ‘Delia Rajas’ who went to Land Bank Shaw in August 1998 and was involved in the PhP130 Million allegedly given to President Estrada. This Court may take judicial notice of this incident in the impeachment court in January 2001, where witness Caridad M. Rodenas failed to identify Ms. Rajas from the gallery. Even the prosecution admits this when it charges “Jane Doe @ Delia Rajas” in its criminal information.

On the other hand, Admate Company, Inc., Energetic Security and Specialists, Inc., Jetro Construction & Development, Inc., are not alleged as either having participated, become involved in or otherwise benefited from the PhP130 Millon which allegedly went to President Estrada. Thus, the SSS Reports of these corporations are also immaterial to this case.

Sixth, the identification cards of accused Alma Alfaro are dubious at best, since the authenticity and due execution thereof were never established. Specifically, no authorized person from the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos ever certified as to the validity of the supposed ID card of accused Alma Alfaro. What was also presented to the court was a mere photocopy of the ID card. Neither can prosecution witness Caridad Rodenas attest to its authenticity the same was only given to her; hence, her testimony insofar as this ID card is concerned would be hearsay in nature.

It may not be amiss to note that the ID card of “Delia Rajas” (Exhibit “Q13”) is also spurious, i.e., the picture found on said ID card does not correspond to that of the REAL Delia Rajas, and that the person who actually went to Land Bank Shaw on 27th and 28th August 1998 was an impostor pretending to be Delia Rajas. So is it possible that this ID card (Exhibit “F13”) could also be spurious? That possibility could have been erased if only the prosecution had been diligent in locating witnesses.

The ID proves, if at all, that an ID card was issued by UNO-R in favor of an Alma Alfaro. Whether or not the picture found on the ID card belongs to the REAL Alma Alfaro is a matter which the prosecution failed to establish. But certainly, this Exhibit, standing alone, does not prove the alleged conspiracy between Alfaro, “Rajas”, Eleuterio Tan, and Atong Ang to give the PhP130 Million to President Estrada.

Seventh, the deposit slip and signature card of Alma Alfaro prove that somebody using the name of ‘Alma Alfaro’ opened an account with Land Bank – nothing more. Surely, the same could not prove that Alma Alfaro had conspired with any of the other co-accused for the purpose of transferring Php130 Million in tobacco excise tax funds to President Estrada. No prosecution witness testified that President Estrada was aware of, involved in or otherwise interested in this bank transaction.

Eighth, the letter-request of Ms. Caridad Rodenas proves that she requested the Branch Manager of Land Bank Greenhills for a fund transfer of Php46 Million – nothing more. This document cannot be used to prove an alleged conspiracy between any of the accused, whose names do not at all appear therein. Surely, the document cannot prove that the accused committed the crime of plunder.

Ninth, the Land Bank withdrawal slip of Alma Alfaro for Php40 Million may prove that a person introducing herself as “Alma Alfaro” had caused the withdrawal of Php40 Million from her account. It does not prove that the money in whole or in part, finally went to President Estrada. No prosecution witness testified that President Estrada was aware of, involved in or otherwise interested in this bank transaction. Neither does it prove that Alma Alfaro conspired with the other co-accused, since only Alfaro’s name and signature appeared on the Exhibit.

Tenth, the supposed identification cards of “Eleuterio Tan” are dubious at best, since their authenticity and due execution were not sufficiently established by the prosecution. Specifically, the prosecution failed to obtain a certification from Solid Builders that the ID card is authentic, and that “Eleuterio Tan” is connected with said company. Neither was the prosecution able to obtain a certification or testimony that the picture appearing on said ID card is, indeed, that of “Eleuterio Tan.”

These documents merely prove that the picture of Victor Jose Tan Uy appears on a Solid Builders Centre identification card, which bears the name of “Eleuterio Tan”. However, these documents do not prove that accused Tan Uy had assumed the name of Eleuterio Tan, for it is possible that somebody had merely placed the picture of Mr. Tan Uy on the identification card without the former’s knowledge and consent. There is no testimony from any prosecution witness that the signature of “Eleuterio Tan” found on the identification card was done by Mr. Tan Uy. Thus, the prosecution’s conclusion that Mr. Tan Uy and accused Eleuterio Tan are one and the same person has no basis in fact.

In any case, this exhibit and its sub-markings may prove that a person introducing himself as “Eleuterio Tan” had opened a savings account with Land Bank on 28th August 1998. It does not prove that the money, in whole or in part, finally went to President Estrada. Neither does it prove that “Eleuterio Tan” conspired with the other co-accused, since only Tan’s name and signature appeared on the Exhibit.

Eleventh, the identification cards and Land Bank deposit slip of a “Delia Rajas” have little probative value, since their authenticity and due execution were not sufficiently established by the prosecution. Specifically, the prosecution failed to obtain a certification from Solid Builders that the ID card is authentic, and that “Delia Rajas” is connected with said company. Neither was the prosecution able to obtain a certification or testimony that the picture appearing on said ID card is, indeed, that of “Delia Rajas”.

It may not be amiss to note that the signatures submitted by “Delia Rajas” in Exhibits “R13” and “S13” are not identical to the signature of the REAL Delia Rajas, whose signature is on-file with the SSS (see Exhibit “V11 and sub-markings). Clearly, the signatures are the handiwork of an impostor.

In any case, these exhibits and their sub-markings may prove that a person introducing herself as “Delia Rajas” had opened a savings account with Land Bank on 28th August 1998. It does not prove that the money, in whole or in part, ultimately went to President Estrada. No prosecution witness testified that President Estrada was aware of, involved in or otherwise interested in this bank transaction. Neither does it prove that “Delia Rajas” conspired with the other co-accused, since only Rajas’ name and signature appeared on the Exhibits.

Twelfth, the Land Bank cashier’s checks dated 28th August 1998 may prove that a person introducing himself as “Eleuterio Tan” had caused the preparation of cashier’s checks in the total amount of Php90 Million. They do not prove that the money, in whole or in part, ultimately went to President Estrada. No prosecution witness testified that President Estrada was aware of, involved in or otherwise interested in these bank transactions. Neither do they prove that “Eleuterio Tan” conspired with the other co-accused, since only Tan’s name and signature appeared on the Exhibits. Further, there are no incriminatory connections between these exhibits and the accused Estradas in respect of the charges in the amended information. Neither the Estrada’s names nor signatures appear on these documents.

Thirteenth, the signature cards of Catalina Ang and/or Yolanda Yu are totally irrelevant to this case. Catalina Ang and Yolanda Uy are NOT accused in this case. Thus, the presentation of bank documents pertaining to them are pointless. If we follow the prosecution’s theory that Catalina Ang and Yolanda Uy are ‘connected’ to accused Atong Ang, “Delia Rajas”, “Alma Alfaro” and “Eleuterio Tan” simply by reason of their maintenance of bank accounts in the same bank, then all depositors and accountholders in Land Bank Shaw are likewise ‘connected’ to the accused. Needless to say, the prosecution’s thesis is downright preposterous.

The prosecution impliedly admit the immateriality of these exhibits when they failed to implead Catalina Ang and/or Yolanda Uy as co-conspirators in this case.

Fourteenth, the documents submitted by Atty. David Yap relative to Westmont Bank are patently INADMISSIBLE, on the ground that the authenticity and due execution of these documents were not established by the prosecution. Court records will reflect that the prosecution failed to present any witness having personal knowledge of the factual circumstances in respect of these exhibits.

Atty. David Yap, the Senate legal officer, brought these documents to the Special Court. Atty. Yap merely stated that these documents were in his possession in relation to his duties during the impeachment trial. However, Atty. Yap has no personal knowledge on how these documents came to being. He is not connected with United Overseas Bank; hence, he could not even attest to the regularity of the forms, much less attest to the truth of the entries found on the exhibits. Finally, this Court may take judicial notice of the fact that no Overseas Bank employee ever testified in the impeachment trial to attest to the authenticity and due execution of these documents now being offered as Exhibits.

In any case, these exhibits and their sub-markings may prove that a person introducing himself as “Eleuterio Tan” had caused the withdrawal of the total amount of Php90 Million from his savings account. They do not prove that the money, in whole or in part, ultimately went to President Estrada. No prosecution witness testified that President Estrada was aware of, involved in or otherwise interested in these bank transactions. Neither do they prove that “Eleuterio Tan” conspired with the other co-accused, since only Tan’s name and signature appeared on the Exhibits.

Fifteenth, the Land Bank transaction advices dated 28th August 1998 may prove that the total amount of Php130 Million were credited to the account of Alma Alfaro, Delia Rajas and Eleuterio Tan from the account of Luis “Chavit” Singson. They do not prove that the money, in whole or in part, finally went to President Estrada. No prosecution witness testified that President Estrada was aware of, involved in or otherwise interested in these bank transactions.

Sixteenth, nowhere in the affidavit of Mrs. Elizabeth Balagot is there any mention that the Php200 Million, in whole or in part, processed by Mrs. Balagot finally went to President Estrada. Mrs. Balagot did not state under oath that President Estrada was aware of, involved in, or otherwise interested in the Php200 Million. If at all, Mrs. Balagot clearly attested that it was Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson and his representatives, Maricar Paz and Marina Atendido, who actively gave instructions on how the funds were to be transferred to different accounts. Mrs. Balagot also attested that it was Ms. Paz and Ms. Atendido who gave the names “Alma Alfaro”, “Delia Rajas” and “Eleuterio Tan” to her.

Seventeenth, it must be borne in mind here that, because of the circumstances listed above, it was the principal witness, Singson, who was recommended to be indicted. Because of the illegal acts committed by Singson, the National Bureau of Investigation recommended the filing of criminal charges against him. Defense witness Carlos Saunar, the had of the Anti-Graft Division of the NBI from 1997 to 2001, testified that he was instructed by the head of the NBI, Director Federico Opinion, to investigate the disclosures made by Gov. Singson. He secured documents from the Commission on Audit (COA) and subpoenaed concerned public officers from COA and from the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur. He formed several investigating teams and these teams, after interviewing witnesses, analyzing reports, examining documents, and looking into alleged projects of Singson, prepared a 19-page NBI Revised Report of Investigation dated November 17, 2000 (Exhibit ‘200-C1’). Based on their investigation, the NBI Teams of Carlos Saunar later filed criminal complaints against Singson for plunder and/or malversation of public funds and/or violation of Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019.

The minor prosecution witnesses do not prove the guilt of President Estrada beyond reasonable doubt

Suffice it to state that none of the minor witnesses of the prosecution had contributed to proving President Estrada’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

First, Mrs. Elizabeth Gozo Balagot testified on January 20 and 22, 2003 that the amount of Php170 Million was withdrawn from her Land Bank Vigan branch, P130 Million of which was transferred to the accounts of accused Alfaro, Rajas and Tan in Land Bank Shaw. She, however, confirmed that neither President Estrada nor accused Atong Ang was ever involved in the transaction, either directly or indirectly . Instead, she identified two (2) representatives of Chavit Singson as having actively given instructions to her to encash the Php170 Million check and, when this was not possible, to prepare demand drafts in the name of Chavit Singson, and finally in the names of Alfaro, Rajas and Tan.

If this was not enough damage to the prosecution’s cause, Mrs. Balagot further testified that she personally called up Chavit Singson to confirm the actions of “Rajas” and “Tan”, and she remembered him saying, “Kung ano ang gusto nila, yun ang gawin mo”. This reveals Chavit Singson’s implicit unity of purpose and action with Alfaro, Rajas and Tan in taking out the moneys forwarded to Land Bank Shaw.

Mrs. Balagot further clarified that Chavit Singson’s representative, Ms. Maricar Paz, never mentioned the names of President Estrada nor Atong Ang, nor was it mentioned that it was Atong Ang who gave the names of Alfaro, Rajas and Tan to her.

Second, the prosecution presented Ms. Caridad Rodenas in an attempt to link Atong Ang in the bank transactions performed by Alfaro, Rajas and Tan. However, Ms. Rodenas admitted among others, that: (i) she has no personal knowledge about the authenticity of the ID cards presented by Alfaro when she transacted for and on behalf of Catalina Ang/Yolanda Yu ; (ii) Catalina Ang/Yolanda Yu never participated, directly or indirectly, in the account opening and withdrawal transactions conducted by Alfaro, Rajas and Tan on 28th August 1998 ; (iii) she never inquired from Catalina Ang if she owns Power Express, and/or that Alfaro is her employee ; (iv) she did not verify from either Solid Builders or ET Enterprises if Delia Rajas is their employee and (v) neither did she verify from Solid Builders and ET Enterprises if “Eleuterio Tan” is their employee.

Truth to tell, Ms. Rodenas had helped the defense when she admitted that the REAL Delia Rajas, who had come out during the impeachment trial, was not the same person who introduced herself as “Delia Rajas” on 28th August 1998. She further confirmed that the signature of the REAL Delia Rajas as appearing in an SSS certification was different from the signature card of “Delia Rajas” filed with the bank.

Third, Federico Artates and Jamis Singson attempted to link Mr. William Ang (a brother of accused Atong Ang) by alleging that William Ang was presented when four (4) boxes of money were allegedly taken out of Westmont Bank on 31st August 1998. However, neither of them saw the money brought by Atong Ang to President Estrada. In fact, Artates categorically stated that he never saw President Estrada or Jinggoy receive anything from Chavit Singson. Finally, neither of them could say how much money was taken out, if at all.

Fourth, Ms. Ilonor Madrid of the LTO merely testified on the existence of a file for Mr. Victor Jose Tan Uy. Her testimony did not at all affect President Estrada.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

III. SALE OF BELLE SHARES COMMISSION

In the third paragraph of the Amended Information, the prosecution charges the accused of plunder –

“(c) by directing, ordering and compelling, FOR HIS PERSONAL GAIN AND BENEFIT, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) TO PURCHASE, 351,878,000 SHARES OF STOCKS, MORE OR LESS, and the Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 SHARES OF STOCK, MORE OR LESS, OF THE BELLE CORPORATION IN THE AMOUNT OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION ONE HUNDRED TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (P1,102,965,607.50) AND MORE OR LESS SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY FOUR MILLION SIX HUNDRED TWELVE THOUSAND AND FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (744,612,450.00) RESPECTIVELY, OR A TOTAL OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (P1,847,578,057.50); AND BY COLLECTING OR RECEIVING, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, BY HIMSELF AND/OR IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, COMMISSIONS OR PERCENTAGES BY REASON OF SAID PURCHASES OF SHARES OF STOCK IN THE AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P189,700,000.00) MORE OR LESS, FROM THE BELLE CORPORATION WHICH BECAME PART OF THE DEPOSIT IN THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK UNDER THE ACCOUNT NAME “JOSE VELARDE”; x x x

The acts imputed against accused President Joseph Estrada consists of directing, ordering and compelling for his personal gain and benefit the GSIS and SSS to purchase shares of stock in Belle Shares Corp. GSIS amounting to 351,878,000 shares with a value of P1,102,965,607.50; SSS in the amount of 329,855,000 shares with a value of P744,612,450.00 or a total of P1,847,578,057.50 and thereafter collecting and/or receiving by reason of said purchases, profit commission in the amount of P189,700,000.00 which later on became part of the Jose Velarde deposit in Equitable PCI Bank.

A. Evidence for the Prosecution

The Prosecution here presented four principal witnesses, namely, Carlos Arellano, Chairman of the SSS; Federico Pascual, President of the GSIS; Rizaldy Capulong, Deputy Chief and Assistant Vice-President and Secretary of Trading and Management of the SSS, and Willy Ng Ocier, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Belle Corporation.

Carlos Arellano testified that he was appointed by accused President Estrada as Chairman and President of SSS on July 1, 1998 and Chairman of Social Security Commission (SSC). As such, he supervised the overall operations of the System and trading of stocks making sure that all rules of procedure are observed and followed. Although SSS is engaged in the purchase and sale of Belle Shares, he could not recall how many times it had transacted with said shares, the last of which was in October 21, 1999. The transaction was initiated sometime in October 6 when he got a call from accused President Estrada who asked him to take a look together with Ding Pascual (President and Gen. Manager at that time), at Belle shares. The President allegedly told him “gusto ko tingnan ninyo ni Ding Pascual ang Belle Corporation para bilihin nyo, gusto ko kayo ni Ding Pascual ay tingnan nyo ang pagbili ng Belle Corp sa stock market.”

This statement “tingnan nyo” was considered by him as an instruction to him. He asked the investment committee department to take a look and review Belle shares as an investment item in the portfolio of the SSS and to find out to what extent the SSS can further increase its position in said stocks. The members of the said department however agreed that Belle was still a possible investment.

A week later, he got another call from President Estrada who asked him to see him at the Presidential residence in Malacañan. In there, he found Jaime Dichavez seated by the round dining table. They approached accused President Estrada who asked him about his instruction to buy Belle shares to which he replied “tinitingnan pa po naming ulit ang pagbili”.

Two days thereafter, he again received another call from President Estrada. The next working day, he discussed with the investment committee to make sure that Belle is still a valid investment as far as SSS is concerned. He then referred the matter to SSS Investment Committee which considered Belle as still good investment in stocks. They then made SSS ready to buy in October 21, 1999. SSS purchased block of shares amounting to 249 Million shares with an equivalent value of P783 Million or average price of P3.14 per share. It was he who made the purchase of Belle shares from different brokers as summarized in the confirmation report.

Federico Pascual testified that he was the president of the Government Service Insurance System during the period when the offense herein charged was allegedly committed. He came to know the former president personally while he was an officer of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. On September 6, 1999, he was called by the former president to Malacanang. The president asked him whether GSIS could purchase Belle shares. On the said occasion, he told President Estrada “Tingnan ho natin, marami pa pong trabahong gagawin diyan.” The president answered “Sige, pag-aralan mo na, bilisan mo lang.” On October 9 of the same year, while he was in the Heathrow Airport in London, he received a call via his phone from his secretary asking him to return the call of the president because the latter was looking for him. Thereafter, he returned the call of the president. In their conversation, the president again asked him “Bakit di ka pa bumibili ng Belle” to which he replied “tatawag ho ako sa Head Office sa Manila para pag-aralan”. He then called up the head office of GSIS and instructed Chief Operating Officer Mr. Reynaldo Palmery to study whether the Belle Corporation is still a qualified share for GSIS to buy under the latter’s policy and if so, to buy within the limits of their management authority. His reason as to why it was only on October 9, 1999 that he ordered the “GSIS people” to proceed with the purchase was that: 1) he was hoping that the president was not serious and will probably forget the instruction, and 2) he was not comfortable with Belle having a speculative flavor it being involved in jai-alai and other gaming activities 3) because on October 9, he felt that the president is more serious in the sense that he is away and the president called him and he felt the former was already agitated.

Upon his return to the Philippines on October 22, 1999, he discovered from the trading department of GSIS that the GSIS had already purchased a total of 351,000,000 shares of Belle valued at P1.1 BILLION, equivalent to one (1) board seat in the corporation. In the course of the transaction, he gave authority to the Corporate Finance Department of GSIS to study the shares and if Belle is still qualified under GSIS policies and charter, and if so to buy within the limits of such policy. He did not give instructions as to the number of shares to buy.

Rizaldy Capulong, the Deputy Chief Actuary of the Actuary Department and Assistant Vice President for the Securities Trading and Management Department of the SSS, testified that the acquisition/purchase of Belle shares on October 21, 1999 was in order and perfectly valid transaction. Capulong testified that he examined and audited all the acquisition papers and the various confirmation slips and official receipts covering said acquisition and he found them all to be in order. Hence, he had no objection to but on the contrary approved the payment of the said acquisition. The vouchers, confirmations receipts and evidence of payment supporting this assertion were identified by him.

Willy Ng Ocier, Vice President, at that time Vice-Chairman of Belle Corporation, testified that he had talked/conversed with Jaime Dichavez, a close associate and cousin of his, who is also an officer of Belle Corporation. The talk took place after their board meeting at Tektite Building in Ortigas sometime in July 1999. In that talk, he was allegedly informed by Dichavez that President Estrada assured him that GSIS and SSS will purchase shares of Belle Corporation and that President Estrada was asking for P200 Million as profit commission. He, however, had not talked to President Estrada regarding the truth and/or veracity of the aforesaid statement of Dichavez. Ocier had not asked President Estrada for a confirmation of the said representation made by Dichavez neither was the same affirmed by the accused at any time before, during, and after the alleged issuance of the P189,700,000.00 check.

B. Evidence for the Defense

The accused presented four witnesses, aside from President Estrada, under this charge: Justice Hermogenes D. Concepcion, Jr., former Chairman of the GSIS; Atty. Mercedes Gaculitan, Secretary of the SS Commission; Reynaldo Palmiery, Executive Vice-President of GSIS; and Rizaldy Capulong, Assistant Vice-President for Securities Trading and Management, and Head of the Actuary Department.

In his testimony, President Estrada denied having pressured either Federico Pascual, GSIS President, or Carlos Arellano, SSS Chairman, to buy Belle shares. He merely told Pascual to study if the purchase of Belle shares will be beneficial to the government, and Pascual answered, “Yes sir – it will be studied by the Corporate Finance Department.” He admitted having called up Pascual by phone, who at that time happened to be abroad, but they talked about delayed GSIS benefits.

As for Arellano, President Estrada recalled that he might have called him, and he told Arellano to study the purchase of Belle shares, and to see if this would be beneficial to the government. The purchase of Belle shares was an independent decision of both SSS and GSIS. President Estrada remembers seeing Willy Ocier, a prosecution witness, at Tagaytay Highlands, at one time. There was no talk about any commission at all. If it was true that Estrada asked for a commission, then Ocier would have asked him about it.

Justice Hermogenes Concepcion identified his Counter-Affidavit (Exhibit “235”) which he had executed in this case and affirmed the veracity of said Counter-Affidavit, specifically, paragraph 10, stating that “in Resolution No. 273 dated 25 June 1993, the then Board of Trustees approved the purchase of some 18 million shares of Belle”. He was Chairman of the GSIS from July 1, 1998 to June 30, 2004. He also said that “the purchase of Belle shares satisfies the basic requirements of investment of GSIS funds . . . it does not exceed the limits laid down by GSIS internal guidelines”. The President/General Manager has full authority to buy or sell shares within the boundaries set forth by the Board of Trustees, so he buys/sells without the knowledge of the Board. The GSIS made a profit from the sale of Belle shares from 1993-2000 of P145,859,195.00. The President of GSIS, Federico Pascual, did not inform him about his talk with President Estrada about Belle shares, and not one of the members of the Board of Trustees mentioned to him anything about President Estrada’s alleged pressure to buy Belle shares.

Merceditas Gaculitan, SS Commissioner Secretary, identified documentary evidence of the defendants.

Reynaldo Palmiery, Chief Operating Officer of GSIS and Chairman of the Investment Committee from 1998-2000, who was also a Prosecution witness, testified on the guidelines of the GSIS laid down for investment. He affirmed his statement in his Joint Counter-Affidavit (Exhibit “236”) that the investment in Belle shares was made only after discussion, review and evaluation by the Investment Committee, and that the GSIS has been actively trading in Belle shares since 1993 and has since then booked an aggregate trading gain of P145,859,195.95 on the purchase of Belle shares alone. He also stated that the continuing authority to purchase stocks was first given to the President of GSIS in Resolution No. 284, and was subsequently given to the Executive Vice President and the Senior Vice President.

Rizaldy Capulong, who had earlier testified as a witness for the Prosecution, also testified for the defense. He repeated the guidelines for investments and securities trading by the SSS: profit-ability, dividend record, ownership structure, nature of the business, the stock’s price movement and volume trades. The purchase of the Belle shares in question was not for long term but for portfolio trading or buying and selling for short term only. SSS had been buying and selling Belle shares before this transaction in October 21, 1999, when these were on an upward trend.

DISCUSSION

Transaction was perfectly valid and legal, and no commission was given to Accused

The gravamen of accused Estrada’s criminal liability under the aforesaid charge is the alleged order, directing and compelling the GSIS to purchase Belle shares, 351,878,000 for GSIS and 329,855,000 shares for SSS, more or less, with the total aggregate value of P1,847,578,057.50 and thereafter collecting and receiving a profit commission in the amount of P189,700,000.00.

Under the foregoing charges, the prosecution incur the bounden duty to prove –

1) accused Estrada’s acts constitutive of directing, ordering and compelling the GSIS and SSS to buy Belle shares;

2) the purchase were made solely due to the said acts of compulsion by accused Estrada;

3) the extent and parameter of Estrada’s acts relative to the question purchases;

4) that the alleged profit commission is government fund or money and;

5) damages to the government or People of the Philippines.

However, the evidence for the prosecution itself shows that (1) the transactions complained of was perfectly valid, since accused President Estrada did not direct, order or compel SSS and GSIS officials to buy Belle shares, and (2) there is no proof that any commission was paid to the accused. Doubtless, the prosecution failed to prove any of the components of the crime attributed to the accused here.

SSS purchase of Belle shares valid and regular

Carlos Arellano’s testimony shows that the purchase by SSS of Belle shares was a routine transaction in the regular course of business, for SSS had previously purchased Belle shares at a profit.

Going further with his testimony, it became indubitably clear that what was told to him by President Estrada was simply to initiate the acquisition of Belle shares. How many shares he was ordered to buy and at how much a price per share, was never dealt with in the phone conversation. That, notwithstanding, he proceeded on his own volition with the acquisition of the 249 Million Belle shares.

His version on this particular matter runs this wise –

J. Cuevas

Q: All right. I have gone over your affidavit on several occasions and I did not see any specific number of shares you are ask to purchase, am I right?

A: That is correct, sir.

Q: I also did not notice here any amount per share at which you should purchase (sic) million shares?

A: That’s also correct, sir.

Q: Did you not ask for a clarification from President Joseph Estrada about that?

A: No, sir.

Q: That was left to your discretion?

A: Yes, sir.

xxx

J. Cuevas
Q: What is so important with the October 21, 1999 transaction of Belle shares?

A: As I answered earlier, sir it is a question for me as the main trader there is a question of timing and this is the volume of shares to be purchased at that point in time in the market.

Q: That is per your action and not per instruction of the President because there is nothing there stated in your affidavit that kind of instruction, is it not?

A: That is my prerogative, sir.

Q: But then there is no such instruction to acquire, let’s say Ten Million or Two Hundred Million shares?

A: No, sir.

Q: There is also no specific instruction that you bear in mind that you must make the acquisition on the definite amount?

A: No definite price, sir.”

The aforesaid version dealing with the said alleged purchase was clearly admitted by Arellano to be exclusively his together with the policy making body of the SSS.

On cross-examination, Arellano clearly admitted that Belle Shares Corporation had been in the list of investment of the SSS for several years before the controversial October 21, 1999 purchase; that SSS had been purchasing substantial amount on various occasions without instruction from President Estrada and that with or without instruction of President Estrada, the SSS had been continuously buying shares of Belle Share Corporation.

Arellano also admitted and reiterated that the questioned purchase was valid and legal. It was effected within legal bounds. This is borne out by his further testimony on this specific issue.

J. Cuevas

Q: So the disposition and decision to acquire million shares at so much the price is not the President decision but your decision?

A: That’s correct, sir. But the main fact that the President called me I would not suggest that.

Q: So what is your answer to my question when you were not instructed to acquire number of shares?

A: To acquire such number of shares I was also surprised of the price.

Q: Why did you choose to acquire 329,855,000.00 million shares on October when there was no definite instruction from the President with respect to the quantity of shares?

A: Precisely, the same answer that I have given. I felt somehow the pressure from the President that I have purchased a lot of shares from Belle Corporation as far as the SSS is concerned.

Q: Mr. Witness, did you clarify from the President to what particular purchase is he referring to, I did not see that in your affidavit?

A: None, sir.

Q: So you did not make any clarification?

A: No, sir.

Q: It was only based on your conclusion and assumption?

A: Because the shares were made available in the department?

Q: Yes, why the specific number of 329,855,000.00 million?

A: That is an arbitrary figure. I thought that was a significant enough amount to make it appear the purchase of the SSS.

Q: So that was your lone decision and not the President instruction?

A: That is my decision, sir together with the policy making body of the SSS, sir.

Q: So after you made your decision you asked that the acquisition be approved by SSS, is that right?

A: That’s the way around. I have already the mandate to buy prerogative as far as the timing is concerned. And as far as the volume of shares within a certain period. This is my prerogative, sir.

It may now be asked why did Arellano testify in the manner he did and executed an affidavit implicating President Estrada in the instant Plunder case notwithstanding that there was nothing irregular, illegal and anomalous in the October 21, 1999 acquisition of Belle shares. Verily, there is no other logical conclusion but that Arellano’s testimonies and his affidavit are his last ditch effort to exculpate himself from possible plunder charges where he may be detained without bail considering that plunder is a capital offense.

J. Cuevas:

Q: My understanding is that there is nothing illegal and irregular or anomalous in the acquisition that you made on October 21, 1999?

A: Nothing, sir.

xxx

Q: Alright, and all those transactions were legal, valid and regular?

A: As far as I am concerned, sir, I followed all the rules. It is a legal investment of the SSS. It is a valid investment that is in the list of investment of the SSS. It is not an irregular investment and it is said that it might be somewhat not ordinary in the sense that in this case there was a call.

That the acquisition/purchase of Belle shares on October 21, 1999 was in order and perfectly valid transaction was further corroborated and solidly supported by Rizaldy Capulong, the Deputy Chief Actuary of the Actuary Department and Assistant Vice President for the Securities Trading and Management Department of the SSS. Capulong testified that he examined and audited all the acquisition papers and the various confirmation slips and official receipts covering said acquisition and he found them all to be in order. Hence, he had no objection to, but on the contrary approved the payment of, the said acquisition.

Capulong reiterated this position when he was again presented by the accused.

Likewise, GSIS purchase was made in accordance with investment policy and rules

The testimony of the President of the GSIS, Federico Pascual, also shows that the purchase of Belle shares by the GSIS was in accordance with existing policies and procedures for investments by the System. Pascual, as prosecution witness, admitted that the steps and requisites for a valid purchase of shares were followed, thus:

1. The Belle shares purchased are qualified under GSIS policy and charter

JUSTICE CUEVAS

But is it not a fact that even way back in 1993, GSIS have been purchasing or dealing in Belle Shares, right?

A: That is correct and I found that out after October 21, Sir.

Q: There were also transactions involving purchases of Belle Shares in 1994 by GSIS?

A: That was reported to me afterwards, Sir.

Q: You must have examined the records pertaining to these purchases, is it not?

A: Afterwards, yes, Sir.

Q: With your examination, you were convinced that Belle Shares had all the while been the subject of purchase by GSIS?

A: When the President gave me the instruction and I made the call to the head office, I did not know that the previous administration of GSIS had already … had one (1) board seat in Belle. Had already been purchasing Belle Shares since 1993 and had already made profit in Belle at the extent of around P145,000,000.00, Sir.

AJ ILARDE:

Can you tell the Court, when did you examine these records about the previous purchases?

A: It was after I arrived in Manila on October 22, my first day to report, when I asked my Chief Operating Officer why they purchased so much Belle Shares and they gave me the report that: “Sir, eh matagal na tayong bumibili ng Belle since 1993, we have been purchasing Belle Shares and that we already made P145,000,000.00 profit in Belle since 1993 up to the present prior to my coming in as the new General Manager of GSIS. And that even before they already had one board seat in Belle. Sabi nila they were comfortable with the Belle Shares, your Honor.”

This implies that contrary to the belief of the witness before this purchase was transacted, Belle corporation had always been a qualified share for the GSIS to buy under its policy and charter and that GSIS had always been a regular subscriber of Belle Corporation. That being so, it follows that GSIS may therefore, by itself and in accordance with its rules, purchase from Belle shares of stocks anytime it pleases and without need of any order or compulsion from anybody.

2. The purchase was authorized under GSIS policy.

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Now my question to you now is … let us get this clear, who in behalf of the GSIS therefore authorized the purchase that took place on October 13 to 21?

A: My instruction, Sir, is for the staff to study and determine whether Belle was still a qualified share, then if Belle was still a qualified share, to buy within the limits or policies. So I let it up to the management to determine how much to buy but the instruction came from me, Sir.

Q: You are not answering the question?

A: But the question is, who authorized, Sir?

Q: Yes, who?

A: I authorized the purchased only if Belle was a qualified shares to buy, Sir.

AJ ILARDE:

Who implemented?

A: Yes, who implemented, it is the trading department which is under the Corporate Finance Group.

In other words, it is just a matter of buying the shares, your Honor, if the shares is already a qualified shares, it is just a matter of buying the shares and that’s it. It is not a big decision. It is not a big deal as to who authorize it or what. Because once the decision is there to buy then the trading department will just buy, your Honor.

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Q: And the GSIS went to investigate or make further inquiries in connection with the shares?

A: They made a study, Sir.

Q: They were able to determine that there would be no violation that could have been committed by GSIS in the purchase of the shares, right?

A: Yes sir.

Based on the foregoing it is clear that the purchase of the Belle shares was studied, approved, and implemented directly by GSIS as an institution itself.

The price per share is perfectly in conformity with the prevailing price during that time.

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Q: How much was the share involved in this acquisition?

A: An average of around P3.14 per share, Sir.

Q: To be exact I have computed its P3.13?

A: Well its about that, around that, Sir.

Q: And that is perfectly within the range of the purchase price of Belle Shares, right?

A: That is correct, that was how much it was worth around that time, Sir.

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Q: Do you agree with this Court that it is a profitable undertaking?

A: Yes, sir. That is the reason why, when I came back and I asked my people, and when my people reported to me how much they bought, and they explained to me the reason why they bought so much that there is a history of profitability, they already had a P1 billion turnover plus this recommendation, then my feeling was as always that it was a good buying afterwards.

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Q: How did you come to know whether somebody benefited for the purchase of these Belle Shares that took place on October 13 to 21?

A: No, Sir, I have no …

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

You have no information whatsoever?

A: No information whatsoever, Sir.

Q: Neither did GSIS loss even a single centavo because of that purchase?

A: Well there is a paper loss but since we are still holding the shares up to now, it is only a paper loss, Sir.

In fine, the foregoing reveals absolute compliance with all the legal necessities required of GSIS in purchasing shares of stocks. Everything in the transaction was properly accounted for, and above board.

Assuming arguendo that there was an instruction from the President for such purchase, such instruction was not too compelling or irresistible to directly cause the execution of the purchase suggestion.

It is worthy to note that the order to buy Belle shares was given to GSIS by its President, witness Federico Pascual. As discussed above, the purchase and the amount of shares to be purchased was a decision made independently by the GSIS Board and only after a careful study by the Corporate Finance Department. Assuming, without admitting, that President indeed made an instruction to Pascual to buy such shares, it is apparent that such an instruction is immaterial, the reason being that the GSIS Board which approved the transaction did not receive the alleged instruction of the President. In the same vein, it decided on the purchase independently, free from any compulsion by an outsider, as the instruction given by Pascual was to the effect that a study be conducted and if the Belle shares are qualified, to buy within the range of their authority.

This is crystal clear from the testimony of Pascual.

ATTY. FLAMINIANO:

Q: But basically you did not interpose any objection to the buying or investing in Belle stocks?

A: Well I said, “titingnan ho natin marami pa hong trabahong gagawin diyan”, that means that we have to go to the process of …

Q: But basically you have no objection but only you wanted to study the matter further?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: That is it?

A: That’s correct, Sir.

Q: Because if there were some obstacle to buying these Belle stocks you would have told the President with all candor, that you could not possibly invest in the Belle Shares?

A: Yes, Sir, if the studies were certainly contrary to policies and I would have told him.

From the foregoing admission, it is crystal clear that the purchase of Belle shares in question was not mandated by accused Joseph Estrada.

Admittedly, it is not strange for the President to call officers of the government under the Office of the President. In fact, Pascual admitted that the President occasionally called him. What appeared during cross-examination was that the call was branded as “unusual” due to the fact that the call was made at the time when the witness was out of the country.

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Q: Now, what was wrong, as you said, that apparently insofar as the number of shares that will be acquired the purchase at which it could be bought there seem to be nothing wrong.

Now, what was wrong with the President allegedly calling you, when your office is under the Office of the President?

A: It was just unusual, Sir, that he would call me for a purchase of a particular shares.

Q: So, were you on other occasions called also by the President?

A: Yes, Sir on come occasions.

Q: And there were so many of them?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: In fact that brought you to Malacañang most of the time?

A: Yes, Sir, he would call me.

AJ FERRER:

Was that the first time that you were allegedly instructed by the President then to purchase a certain stocks from a certain companies?

A: No, your Honor.

AJ FERRER:

That was not the first time. So there were several other times?

A: Yes, your Honor.

xxx

So the only thing that is unusual is that you were away?

A: I was away and there was “parang mas forceful po ang dating nito sa transaksyon na ito?

But it should be borne in mind that, as President Estrada testified, when he called Pascual he did not know that the latter was out of the country.

Still, on another occasion, also during cross-examination, the same witness, explicitly admitted that the term “unusual” was used by him to describe the President’s instruction in the context that it was because he was abroad that time.

ATTY. FLAMINIANO:

Q: Yes, Did you tell these persons who were interviewing you that the call of the President supposedly made to you was unusual?

A: I might have, sir.

Q: You are not sure when you told them that the call of the President was unusual?

A: I might have told them. Probably, it was in another meaning, but the call I said could be unusual, could be irregular. So many things, but I cannot recall whether the word “unusual” was used.

Q: You cannot recall. But here in Court, you have been repeatedly using “unusual” every time you are asked about the characterization of the call of the President. You have been always saying that the call was unusual. Is it not?

A: Yes, sir, because I was able to reflect the need for a long, long time.

Q: And one of the reasons you called it unusual as you were called by the President during the time you were abroad that made it also unusual, isn’t it?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: You used the word “unusual” in that context. Is it not?

A: Yes, sir.

Assuming arguendo, that the call was indeed unusual, it does not follow that such facilitated the commission by the accused of the offenses charged against him. It must be borne in mind that as per admission by the witness, the people who approved and implemented the purchase were unaware that the alleged instruction from the president had been made. Nobody, not even their president, instructed them as to the amount of shares to buy. It follows that the GSIS people have independently and freely proceeded with the purchase without any undue influence or pressure whatsoever. Thus, no pressure may be attributed to have come from the accused.

The witness Federico Pascual at one point during the cross-examination, despite his alleged unusualness of the call, even admitted, categorically, that he is not certain whether the alleged instruction by the President was irregular. Additionally, upon the Court’s inquiry, it was apparent that the witness found it difficult to assure that such instruction was unusual or irregular, thus:

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

But according to you in the alleged instruction of the President there was no mentioned of the number of shares that you were asked to purchase, am I right?

A: That’s correct, Sir.

Q: Neither were you instructed to make the purchase at any definite amount per shares, is that not right also?

A: Yes, that’s correct, yes, Sir.

Q: So where lies the irregularity?

A: There is no irregularity except for the instruction of the … I don’t even know whether that’s an irregularity because the President is my immediate superior, he could give me an order as I give order also to my subordinates, Sir.

xxx

AJ ILARDE:
Is that correct?
A: Well its unusual but you know …
AJ ILARDE:
Nothing irregular?
A: He is my immediate superior, your Honor.

AJ BADOY:

Nothing irregular in the instruction itself?

A: Its unusual that the President would …

AJ BADOY:

No, answer. Nothing irregular in the instruction itself?

A: Its unusual, your Honor.

AJ BADOY:

No nothing irregular in the …

A: Well I don’t know how the Court …
AJ BADOY:
Yes or no.
A: Insofar as …
AJ BADOY:
Yes or no. Nothing irregular in the instruction itself, very simple, yes or no.

Make it of record that witness is thinking deeply.

A: I’m thinking but its unusual, I cannot.

AJ BADOY:

Kindly give the Court the reason why you cannot answer yes or no?

A: It might be irregular, your Honor, because of the instruction. If you will ask me whether its irregular or not, I would say that its probably irregular because normally the President would not give you an instruction, your Honor.

AJ BADOY:

Probably irregular, you are not 100% sure?

A: Yes, your Honor.

The witness went even up to the extent of admitting directly before the Court as one of the Justices asked, that there was no pressure on the GSIS board in concluding the purchase. Thus:

AJ FERRER:

In other words, they were not pressured into finding that the Belle shares were okay, above board, and they were not pressured by anybody into concluding the purchase?

A: That’s correct Your Honor.

Furthermore, the witness testified that had he known that Belle had already made profit for GSIS, he would have been comfortable of the purchase. Thus:

WITNESS:

Only when I came back in October 22 when my people told me the reason why they bought so much shares. They bought ¼ sheet plus a little bit more for trading purposes. ¼ sheet has more or less permanent investment in Belle so that we have representation in management of Belle and the extra shares so that our people can trade regularly the Belle shares. I found out about the history of Belle only when I returned. Had I known that Belle had already made profit for us, then I made the Order after the President’s instruction. I would have been probably more comfortable. I would not have probably not been bothered as much. But the fact is, I only found out about them when I came back on October 22.

No evidence that accused ever received any percentage or commission from sale of Belle shares

The record is bereft of any evidence that the accused President Estrada ever received any commission or percentage from the sale of Belle shares to SSS or GSIS. The witness for the prosecution, Rizaldy Capulong, testified that, while there was a broker’s commission, this was paid to the Abacus Securities Corporation. According to Capulong –

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Q: Kindly go over the document you identified a while ago and tell us because in my examination there is no statement with respect to the payment of profit commission.

A: Yes, sir, just commission.

Q: And the commission … there is what you told us to be broker’s commission?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: The party who was paid and who received the amount there indicated is the broker, like Abacus Securities Corporation and others?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: You were satisfied that the amount of money you paid for this broker’s commission went to the broker appearing in that receipt?

A: Yes, sir, because the payments were addressed to them.

Q: In your capacity as head of Securities Trading and Management Department of the SSS, have you never taken the burden of computing the totality of what was paid by the SSS for the acquisition of the Belle shares?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: How much was the total acquisition cost?

xxx

A: Sir, for the month of October 1999 the SSS bought 389,855,000 shares

Q: Paying the price of …?

A: The value is P1,031,126,400.00.

Q: All these payments went to Belle Corporation, the owner of the shares?

A: No, sir, it went to the brokers, from the SSS it went to the brokers, the buying brokers.

Moreover, it is significant to mention that the prosecution witness Willy Ocier consistently testified and reiterated that the Belle transactions were legal and valid acquisitions ; that since they were genuine purchases, valid payments were made therefor and; that there was nothing irregular with respect to the said transactions, the number of Belle shares bought, the brokers from which it were bought, the date they were bought, the brokers commission and transaction fees paid.

Hereunder is the testimony of Ocier on this point –

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Now, you mentioned about, you talked with Mr. Dichaves whereby he assured you that he had talked to the President, meaning President Estrada, in connection with this purchase of Belle Shares, right?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: When did that take place?

A: The first time we talked about it, it took place after our July board meeting at Tektite, Ortigas, Sir.

Q: And this was personally?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: That was after July 1999?

A: After the board meeting in July, Sir.

Q: Now, was the talk personal or by telephone?

A: No, it was personal, he was present, Sir.

Q: The President, President Estrada was not present when the talked took place?

A: No, sir.

Q: So he does not know what representations have been made by Mr. Dichaves to you in connection with the purchase of Belle Shares?

xxx

A: I wouldn’t know because it was me and Jaime Dichaves talking, Sir.

Q: Only?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: You never have brought this to the attention of anyone not even President Estrada?

A: No, I never talked to President Estrada, Sir.

xxx

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Now, did you have a talk with Dichaves after the issuance and clearing of this check Exhibit “R”?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: How about with President Estrada?

A: No, sir.

Q: So …

A: On that same day?

Q: At anytime thereafter in connection with the check?

A: No, no not in connection with the check, Sir.

Q: You never did inquire from President Estrada whether he received or he was credited in any of his account with the amount stated in the check, Exhibit “R”?

A: No, sir.

Q: I understand that practically almost every week you have seen and met the President, President Estrada, at Tagaytay Highlands?

A: Yes at that time, Sir.

Q: Did you have the opportunity to discuss this matter with him, the alleged profit commission?

A: No, Sir.

Q: Did you also have the chance to discuss the matter of Jose Velarde account?

A: I don’t even know about it, Sir.

Q: Prior to his detention, did you have the opportunity to talk to him about the alleged Jose Velarde account?

A: No, Sir.

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Now, you have no information of the status of the Jose Velarde account?

A: No, Sir.

Q: Since according to you, you admitted you were in constant meeting with the President, President Estrada, did you talk to him in connection with this alleged profit commission?

A: No, sir.

xxx

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Up to this time you never had the opportunity to talk to him about it.

A: No, Sir.

Q: How about the alleged receipt of this profit commission, did you at anytime verify this information with him?

A: No, Sir.

All the foregoing admissions are positive proof of President Estrada’s non-involvement in the purchase of the disputed Belle shares together with the alleged demand and receipt of the profit commission. Ocier’s testimony on the subject sales and commission are purely hearsay and does not bind accused President Estrada.

Even the non-hearsay portion of the witness’ testimony is undoubtedly not sufficient to implicate the accused to the offense charged. What is clear on record is that the commission went to Dichaves as could be readily gleaned from this pertinent portion of Ocier’s testimony on the matter –

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Q: Now, how was this check liquidated later the amount of the check?

A: The check is supposed to be deposited in the account of Jaime Dichaves in Far East Bank, Sir.

Q: How did you come to know that?

A: Well I came to know it much later when we verified the check, as I said in the last hearing.

Q: When was it deposited by Dichaves?

A: I think it was November 4 or 5 of 1999, Sir.

xxx

A: I was not the one who deposited the check, it was Jaime Dichaves who deposited the check not me, Sir.

Q: You cannot tell the Court whether the amount indicated in this Exhibit “R” went to Dichaves?

A: To Dichaves?

Q: Yes?

A: It went to Dichaves, Sir.

Q: Yes, whether …

A: Can you re-phrase the question, Sir?

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

Kindly read the question.

A: I cannot tell?

As far as …

Q: Or you are positive that it went to Mr. Dichaves, which is which?

A: The check that I gave went to Dichaves, Sir.

Q: I’m not asking you about the check, the amount reflected in here is payable to cash, did it go to Mr. Dichaves?

A: Yes, it showed in Pinoy Times that it went into the account of Jaime Dichaves in his Far East Bank account, Sir.

Q: And he admitted that to you later?

A: Mr. Dichaves?

Q: Yes?

A: Yes, I called him up.

Q: When was this?

A: After the …

Q: When was this?

A: After the … when I discovered that the amount also appeared in the Pinoy Times.

Q: I see. Now, Mr. Estrada was not around when you had a talk with Mr. Dichaves?

A: No, Sir.

Q: You cannot tell us whether it is true that he was instructed by Mr. Estrada regarding the alleged profit commission that you mentioned in this statement?

A: I trust my cousin Jaime Dichaves and whatever he tells me I normally believe him, Sir.

Q: Precisely because he told you that was the instruction because of that statement and trust that you have with him you swallowed his representation hook line and sinker?

A: Yes sir.

Q: You never took the trouble of verifying either by friend or by anybody else what benefit Mr. Estrada got out of this check Exhibit “R”?

A: I assume that whatever he says he will do, Sir.

Q: In other words, the totality of what you stated in your affidavit about the instruction, the representation made by Dichaves was not at any instance corroborated or confirmed by Mr. Estrada or anybody else representing him?

A: No, it was just between me and Jaime Dichaves, Sir.

Q: Do you have any evidence to show that account was not opened by Dichaves?

A: I have no direct knowledge, Sir.

Q: In other words, or you are telling us about this check represented by Exhibit “R” came from Mr. Dichaves?

A: Everything I know about the check?

Q: Yes, about how it was opened, about the amount and so on?

A: Yes, I believe so, Sir?

JUSTICE CUEVAS:

You have been telling the Court about the Jose Velarde Account, this is the account that was discussed in the Impeachment Court during the Impeachment proceeding?

A: Yes, Sir.

Q: And you will agree with me that there is no definite and categorical findings of the Impeachment Court during the Impeachment proceedings.

A: Yes, sir.

Q: There was a claim by Mr. Dichaves that this account is his. He opened it, he is the one who had been making deposits and withdrawals and it was he also who closed the account, did you hear about that?

A: I heard about it, Sir.

xxx

Q: You have no way of contradicting or denying that Information?

A: No, sir.

The foregoing, in essence, are the only parts of witness’s testimony which is material to the fact in issue and within his personal knowledge, thus, may be admitted in evidence. However, there is no other conclusion that may be drawn from this testimony other than that the profit commission went to Jaime Dichaves and not to the accused, President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

In our jurisprudence settled is the rule that the rights of the party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of another. The testimony of Ocier being res inter alios acta, cannot affect another except as provided in the Rules of Court.

On a principle of good faith and mutual convenience, a man’s own acts are binding upon himself, and are evidence against him. So are his conduct and declarations. Yet, it would not only be rightly inconvenient, but also manifestly unjust, that a man should be bound by the acts of mere unauthorized strangers; and if a party ought not to be bound by the acts of strangers, neither ought their acts or conduct be used as evidence against him.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

IV. THE ‘JOSE VELARDE’ ACCOUNT

Inadequacy of the allegations

Under Section 1 of paragraph (d), sub-paragraph (2) of Republic Act No. 7080, otherwise known as the Plunder Law, “ill-gotten wealth” is defined as –

“(d) Ill-gotten wealth means any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes:

x x x

2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer concerned;”

In the aforegoing charge, there is no allegation that the commissions, gifts, shares, percentages, kickbacks, or any form of pecuniary benefits alleged to have been deposited in the so-called Jose Velarde account and claimed to be owned by accused were received, directly or indirectly, in connection with any government contract or project or by the reason of the office or position of the accused. The lack of such allegation in the Information as to how such ill-gotten wealth was obtained or deposited to an account (which was not even proven to be his) does not make the receipt of said commissions, shares, percentages, kickbacks, or any form of pecuniary benefits as a form of plunder as provided for in Republic Act No. 7080.

As the allegations on this particular count are utterly inadequate, the evidence presented are equally insufficient. This is expected as what has not been alleged cannot be proved.

A. Evidence for the prosecution

The prosecution presented officials of Equitable PCI Bank who testified on the deposits made to the Jose Velarde account and who identified the deposit slips made as showing deposits to said account. Glyzelyn Bejec testified on the several checks deposited in the Jose Velarde account which totaled P263,292,303.65; the deposit to the Jose Velarde account of several checks between September 30, 1999 to November 22, 1999 with a total of P143 Million; the deposit of several checks on October 31, 1999 and November 20, 1999 in the amount of P40 Million; the deposit on November 24, 1999 to Jose Velarde account of several checks totalling P54,161,496.52; the deposit of several checks between December 17, 1999 up to December 20, 1999 totalling P163,500,000.00; deposit of P5 Million on December 20, 1999; deposit of P2,500,000.00 on December 23 and 24, 1999; deposit of several checks between December 20, 1999 up to December 28, 1999 totalling P70,500,000.00; deposit of several checks totalling P23 Million on May 10, 2000; deposit to the Jose Velarde account on June 6, 2000 in the total amount of P42,945,000.00; deposit of several checks to the Jose Velarde account dated July 25, 2000 totalling P40 Million; deposit of the several checks totalling P25 Million on January 19, 2000; report of transfer of cash deposits to the Velarde account with a total of P145 Million. The electronic clearing system of Equitable PCI Bank on the Jose Velarde account were also presented by the bank officials.

When said bank officials were, however, asked as to the source of these funds and the reason for the issuance of the said checks, they all answered that they do not know. Not one of them could testify as to who issued those checks and what is the consideration for the same.

The prosecution tried to link accused President Joseph Ejercito Estrada to the said Jose Velarde account by presenting Clarissa Ocampo and Manuel Curato to testify on the signature of President Estrada on the Investment Management Agreement which Clarissa Ocampo brought to Malacañang for signature on February 4, 2000. This Investment Management Agreement asked of accused President Estrada to be signed by Clarissa Ocampo on February 4, 2000 are documents separate and distinct from the Jose Velarde account opened on August 1999. The documents asked to be signed on February 4, 2000 as explained later by accused himself refers to an account to be opened which will be the source of the funds to be lent to William Gatchalian. However, Clarissa Ocampo herself admitted that the directional letter she asked accused President Estrada to sign which directs the bank to withdraw from the Jose Velarde Account No. SA/CA No. 0160-62501-5, the amount of P500 Million to be transferred to a new trust account to be opened with No. 101-78056-1 was not honored by the bank. This is due to the fact that Jaime Dichaves had made a different instruction to Betty Bagsit on how to transfer P500 Million from the Jose Velarde account to be deposited to the new trust account.

There was therefore no direct evidence presented by the prosecution to prove who had contributed to the Jose Velarde account and for what consideration the deposits to said account were made which deposits, according to the prosecution, has a total of P3,233,104,173.17.

B. Evidence for the defense

Even as the evidence for the prosecution failed to prove the basic element of the crime of plunder as provided for in Section 1, paragraph (2), sub-paragraph (d) of Republic Act No. 7080, the accused presented witnesses to prove as to who the real owner of the Jose Velarde account.

Romuald Dy Tang, former Treasurer and Executive Vice President of Equitable PCI Bank, was presented to prove the opening of the said Jose Velarde account by Jaime Dichaves through him and that he and Ms. Betty Bagsit handled the Jose Velarde for Mr. Dichaves. He testified that he had joined Equitable Bank in 1995 upon the invitation of Mr. Go together with Mr. Vergara who helped in the professionalization of the bank; that he knows Mr. Dichaves because the family of Mr. Dichaves were incorporators of Equitable Bank and he has several business interests, one of which is the Plaster Glass Manufacturing; that when Mr. Dichaves said that he wanted to open an account under the name of Jose Velarde, he told him to prepare a letter for the records which he did (Exhibit “127”); that he then gave Mr. Dichaves the signature cards and checkbook which he returned after a month; that he opened a current account (25495-4) and a savings account (0160-62501-5); that he managed said account of Mr. Dichaves together with Ms. Bagsit who took over from him in the last quarter of 1999 as he was away travelling at that time; that since Ms. Bagsit was in the Pacific Star Branch, his fixed deposits were moved to Pacific Star Branch.

He also testified that during the impeachment proceedings, he met with Senator Arroyo, Cong. Oscar Moreno, and other prosecutors in a safehouse in Vito Cruz for interview but he was never presented in the impeachment proceedings; that he told the impeachment prosecutors and the Ombudsman what he told the Sandiganbayan but the impeachment prosecutor did not ask him to execute a sworn statement. Mr. Dy Tang was again recalled on December 7, 2005 when he testified that he could identify the signature of Jaime Dichaves on Exhibit “127” as he is familiar with his signature and he sometimes saw Mr. Dichaves in the bank when he made withdrawals against the Jose Velarde account.

An offer of evidence was made that he was called to the witness stand in impeachment court. He would testify that the owner of the Velarde account is Jaime Dichaves despite the insistence of the prosecutors that the owner is accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

Betty Bagsit was also called to the witness stand who testified that when she joined Equitable Bank, she began as Head of Pacific Star Branch with the rank of Assistant Vice President; that when PCI Bank was acquired in 1999, she was promoted to First Vice President and Division Head handling the Makati area; that the Jose Velarde account was started at the Binondo Branch but when her superiors transferred to Makati, they told her to handle the said account; that Mr. Dy Tang was the account officer of Mr. Dichaves as he was always out of the country and since it was a special account which she is handling, it was entrusted to her by Mr. Dy Tang; that there are several special accounts she was handling which is just for the purpose of protecting the identity of the owner; that there is no Jose Velarde as it was Mr. Dichaves himself; that all transactions in said account were coursed to Mr. Dichaves; that the account was never transferred to Binondo branch but the handling was transferred to Makati sometime in November 1999; that she knows the letter of Mr. Dichaves to Mr. Dy Tang on the opening of the account and she met Mr. Dichaves in the office of Mr. Dy Tang; that there is only one signature card for the combo account, the savings and the current account; that Mr. Dichaves would call her and would sometimes go to their office; that only persons known to the bank and very big deposits are allowed to have privilege account; that it was also Mr. Dichaves who told her to prepare the closing of the account and he sent a withdrawal slip and passed by to get the money.

She also testified that she resigned from Equitable PCI Bank because of politics; that while they have been called to the Senate during the impeachment hearing, they were never presented as well as the documents they had brought with them.

She also testified that the debit-credit authority did not come from her as testified to by Clarissa Ocampo, and when she heard Ocampo say that said debit-credit came from her, she called her by phone and told her that what she said is not true; that it was later confirmed that said debit-credit authority came from Trust Department headed by Clarissa Ocampo.

That as she further testified that she met some of the prosecutors Apostol, Oscar, Arroyo and Nachura but after she presented them the documents she had, they went out and announced that the witnesses are not ready with the documents and that branch managers were transferred to other branches, which was not true; that the debit-credit authority presented by Clarissa Ocampo was not the basis of the transfer of P500 Million to the newly opened account; that it was eventually withdrawn from the savings account and was changed for a manager’s check payable to a trust company as instructed to her by phone by Mr. Dichaves; that Mr. Dichaves’ instruction was the pre-termination of a placement and credit it to the savings account and then withdraw the P500 Million through the purchase of a P500 Million manager’s check payable to trust; that the Jose Velarde account never had a balance of P3 Billion at any time.

DISCUSSION

Under the fourth count in the Amended Information, herein accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada is charged with the following:

“That during the period from June, 1998 to January 2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, THEN A PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, by himself AND/OR in CONNIVANCE/CONSPIRACY with his co-accused, WHO ARE MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY, RELATIVES BY AFFINITY OR CONSANGUINITY, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, SUBORDINATES AND/OR OTHER PERSONS, BY TAKING UNDUE ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION, AUTHORITY, RELATIONSHIP, CONNECTION, OR INFLUENCE, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire BY HIMSELF, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or TOTAL VALUE of FOUR BILLION NINETY SEVEN MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P4,097,804,173.17), more or less, THEREBY UNJUSTLY ENRICHING HIMSELF OR THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE AND TO THE DAMAGE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, through ANY OR A combination OR A series of overt OR criminal acts, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS, described as follows:

x x x

(d) by unjustly enriching himself FROM COMMISSIONS, GIFTS, SHARES, PERCENTAGES, KICKBACKS, OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFITS, IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in the amount of MORE OR LESS THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P3,233,104,173.17) AND DEPOSITING THE SAME UNDER HIS ACCOUNT NAME ‘JOSE VELARDE’ AT THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK.”

The elements of the offense under the aforequoted count and which the prosecution must prove are the following:

1. That accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada as then President of the Republic of the Philippines by himself and in connivance with John Doe and Jane Doe had willfully, unlawfully and criminally amassed, accumulated and acquired ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount of P3,233,104,173.17.

2. That such unjust enrichment came from commissions, gifts, shares, percentages, kickbacks or any form of pecuniary benefits given to him in connivance with “John Does” and “Jane Does”.

3. That he had deposited the same under his account name Jose Velarde at Equitable-PCI Bank.

4. That he had enriched himself to this amount at the expense and to the damage of the Filipino people.

The evidence presented by the prosecution miserably failed to prove not even one of the afore-mentioned elements of the acts as charged which will constitute the crime of plunder.

There are missing elements in Prosecution evidence which cannot be supplied by unreasonable inferences

Most of the evidence presented by the prosecution to allegedly support this charge are the testimonies of the bank officers who testified on the existence of Account No. 000110-525495 (a Current Account) and Account No. 0160-62501-5 (a Savings Account) in the name of Jose Velarde and that in the latter account 83 checks were deposited.

The 83 checks deposited would give a total of P2,002,823,855.82 which if added to the alleged cash deposit of P170 Million would make a total of P2,172,823,855.82 deposited in these accounts. This amount does not tally with what was stated in the Information to be in the total amount of P3,233,104,173.17. This would also not tally with the total amount mentioned in the offer of exhibits which is in the total amount of P3,219,791,659.09. Parenthetically, it must be stated that this is just one instance which would show that the evidence presented by the prosecution do not at all support the allegations in the complaint nor the purpose for which they are being offered. Another instance is the testimony of one prosecution witness that the total deposits on these accounts is P481 Million while the total withdrawals is more than P700 Million, which is much more than the amount deposited.

At any rate, the documents submitted as exhibits by the prosecution only tend to prove what checks were deposited to said Account No. 0160-62501-5 of Equitable PCI Bank in the name of Jose Velarde. The deposit slips of the bank which were presented in evidence would only prove that said checks were indeed deposited in Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the name of Jose Velarde. However, the bank employees and officers who testified and identified these documents all said that they do not know the source of the funds deposited, who issued the checks deposited and under what circumstances they were issued.

Glyzelyn Bejec, assistant teller in Equitable PCI Bank, Greenhills Branch, who processed FEBT Check No. 3165579 amounting to P189.7 Million and three (3) other checks totalling P70 Million when it was deposited in the Velarde accounts, stated that the checks were handed to her by the Branch Manager, Teresa Barcelona and not by the person who made the deposit, and that the depositor did not appear before her.

Not one of the bank personnel or any other witness presented by the prosecution testified that accused had any participation in the opening of the said Current Account No. 000110-525495-4 and Savings Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the name of Jose Velarde, nor in its closing. Not one of the prosecution witnesses testified as to the source of the funds deposited in the said accounts. Nor was there any witness who could identify any of the persons who issued the checks deposited under the said account and under what circumstances the same were issued.

In short, there is no proof that accused “willfully, unlawfully and criminally amassed, accumulated and acquired ill-gotten wealth in the amount of P3.2 Million”. Neither is there proof that this money came from “commissions, gifts, percentages, kickbacks or any form of pecuniary benefits given to him,” as the sources of said money have not been identified or traced. There is no evidence to show that he had enriched himself at the expense of the Filipino people.

The missing links in the Prosecution’s evidence are far too many and much too vital to be supplied by inferences so flagrantly indulged in by the government. It cannot be inferred that –

1. Because there is substantial deposit in a bank, this must have been unlawfully amassed; or

2. Because of the enormity of the deposit, this must have come from commissions, gifts, percentages, kickbacks, or any form of pecuniary benefits; or

3. Because a deposit under an alias is so big, the depositor must have enriched himself at the expense of the Filipino people.

Logical reasoning in the law does not work in this manner. Courts are not allowed to supply missing evidence or to give a party the benefit of unreasonable speculation or forced inferences. Liability cannot rest upon guesswork, conjecture or speculation beyond inferences to be drawn from evidence.

If the Prosecution and the court must draw inferences, such must be reasonable inferences; i.e., one that reasonable and fair-minded men in the exercise of impartial judgment might draw from evidence. Any fair-minded and reasonable man can see the absurdity of the inferences listed above in this case. Inference is not reasonable if it is only a guess or possibility, since such inference is based not on evidence but pure conjecture or speculation.

Accused Joseph Estrada cannot be linked to Jose Velarde account

There was a vain attempt though made by the prosecution to connect accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada to the said Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the name of Jose Velarde when the prosecution presented Clarissa Ocampo and Manuel Curato. The prosecution, however, failed miserably in this effort. These two witnesses did not know anything about this Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the name of Jose Velarde where several checks were allegedly deposited. They could not testify on who opened and closed the said accounts.

All that Clarissa Ocampo and Manuel Curato could testify to, would only be the incident on February 4, 2000 in Malacañan when they allegedly brought several bank forms for signature. This refers to the opening of an investment account from which William Gatchalian of Wellex Corporation borrowed P500 Million. The bank forms were prepared by the bank and brought by Clarissa Ocampo and Manuel Curato to Malacañan, and even the name “Jose Velarde” had been pre-typed in the Directional Letter of Intent. They claimed that said forms were signed by accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada under the name of Jose Velarde. The forms which they said were signed by Joseph Ejercito Estrada at that time were the signature cards for that investment account to be newly opened (Exhibits “Z4” and “A5”), the Investment Management Agreement (Exhibits “W4”, “X4” and “Y4” for Account No. 101-78056-1 with Account Name C-163), the Investment Management Guidelines (Exhibit “Z5”), the Directional Letter of Intent (Exhibits “C5” and “D5”) and the Debit-Credit Authority Letter authorizing Equitable PCI Bank to debit Savings Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the amount of P500 Million to fund the Investment Management Account (Exhibit “E5”). It is only in this letter that the name Jose Velarde was typed.

Clarissa Ocampo testified that she told herein accused that they were there to have him sign the documents with regard to the transaction that he has with Wellex, Inc. and that the vehicle will be an investment management agreement where he is the principal and his funds will be lent to Wellex through the bank as agent, that she pointed to accused where he will sign under the words “Principal By”.

Clarissa Ocampo further testified that the instructions in the letter (Exhibit “E5”) directing the debiting from Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the name of Jose Velarde for deposit to the new investment account to be opened was not implemented and followed. For better appreciation, we quote hereunder her testimony on this particular point:

x x x

ATTY. CRESCINI

x x x

“q I see. So the instruction in Exhibit “E5” to debit said account with P500 million and credit it to a trust account opened by Jose Velarde was implemented not through a debit memo but through a cashier’s check.

OMB MARCELO

Objection, your Honor, it assumes that there is an inconsistency between the use of a debit-credit authority and the issuance of a cashier’s check.

AJ SANDOVAL

That is allowed on cross. Answer.

WITNESS

a There was a cashier’s check but the debit-credit could have been used because that was the funding medium I sent to the bank.

ATTY. CRESCINI

q All right. So precisely not a debit memo because it was through a cashier’s check, because when we speak of debit memo, educate me please, it means you withdraw cash from the banking side and transfer it to the trust account, isn’t it?

a Yes, sir.

OMB MARCELO

For the record, defense counsel handed to this representation Exhibit “E5”.

ATTY. CRESCINI

Unaltered, your Honor.

q You received a credit advice to the effect that P500 million was credited to the trust account via a manager’s check?

a I was just told later on that a cashier’s check was delivered to trust.”

Clearly then, a cashier’s check was issued and deposited in the new investment account, instead of following the instruction in said letter (Exhibit “E3”) presented by Clarissa Ocampo for the signature of accused. The testimony then of Clarissa Ocampo and Manuel Curato could not at all connect accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada to the said Jose Velarde account where all the 83 checks presented as documentary evidence were deposited. That the directive asked of him to be signed by Clarissa Ocampo which Curato claimed was not shown to him by Clarissa and which he had seen for the first time only when it was being asked to be signed by accused was not implemented would clearly show that he is not the owner of the said Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the name of Jose Velarde and that it was somebody else’s order which was followed in implementing the transfer of P500 Million from said account to the new investment account asked of him to be signed by Clarissa Ocampo and Manuel Curato.

It must also be mentioned that Manuel Curato himself had testified on cross-examination that Jaime Dichaves had personally gone to the bank to claim ownership of the investment management account and that George Go had instructed Clarissa Ocampo to entertain Dichaves’ claim of ownership. He also testified that Dichaves’ lawyer had also informed the bank that the savings account belongs to Dichaves.

Thus, the evidence for the prosecution on this regard would consist of the testimony of these two (2) bank officers who do not know who opened and closed Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the name of Jose Velarde but who had been informed that the owner of said account is Jaime Dichaves.

While it is true that Ocampo and Curato testified to the signing by the accused Estrada of the investment forms that they brought to Malacañang, this is cancelled by their testimony to the effect that the instructions in the letter (Exhibit “E”) directing the debiting of the account by P500 Million was neither implemented nor followed, precisely because the signature of accused Estrada did not match with that of the real Jose Velarde (who turned out to be Jaime Dichaves). There are additional circumstances, as stated above, that cancel the effects of the testimony of the two bank officers. The Court therefore cannot give credence to the Prosecution’s argument that Joseph Estrada is Jose Velarde, for the proof adduced by the government is susceptible of two conclusions or inferences. If a piece of evidence gives rise to two equally weighted and equally viable conclusions, the Court in a criminal case will lean in favor of the presumption of innocence. The ambiguous evidence for the Prosecution cannot justify condemning an accused to prison when there are whispers of doubt that he is guilty.

On the other hand, the accused President Estrada, while admitting that he did sign some pre-printed forms before Clarissa Ocampo, testified that such signing of forms was merely upon the request of the owner of the Velarde account, Jaime Dichavez, who assured him that this was merely an internal arrangement with the Equitable Bank to make it appear to the borrower, Gatchalian, that he (Estrada) owns the Velarde account to ensure that the loan to be given to Gatchalian will be paid on time. The accused testified that he owed a debt of gratitude to Gatchalian because the latter helped his party in the 1998 presidential elections. The accused also thought of the 3,000 employees of the companies of Gatchalian who might lose their jobs if the companies are closed. The witness Clarissa Ocampo probably did not know about the internal arrangement with the bank because she was not the one in charge of the Jose Velarde account.

True owner of Velarde account positively identified as Dichaves

The person in charge of the Velarde account was Ms. Betty Bagsit, who testified that the Jose Velarde account was owned by Jaime Dichaves. Ms. Bagsit handled the account for one year, from November 1999 to November 2000, when it was closed. This testimony was supported by that of the Branch Manager of Equitable Bank, Romuald Dy Tang, who stated that he knows the owner of the Velarde account, Jaime Dichaves, personally. According to him, he assisted Jaime Dichaves in opening two combination accounts: Current Account No. 0110-25495-4, and Savings Account No. 0160-62501-5, in the name of Jose Velarde. According to him, Dichaves was referred to him by the Chairman of Equitable Bank, Mr. George Go, for the opening of an alias account. He told Mr. Dichaves to prepare a letter indicating his intention and Dichaves sent him a letter (Exhibit ‘127’) saying that he is opening an account under the name of ‘Jose Velarde’. The letter was given to him by Dichaves on the same day that the latter went to Dy Tang’s office to get the signature cards and the check books. In a later hearing, he identified the signature of Dichaves in said letter (Exhibit ‘127’), saying that he is familiar with said signature, admitting that he is related to Dichaves. The testimony of these two witnesses is confirmed by that of Clarissa Ocampo that the instructions in the letter (Exhibit “E5”) directing the debit of the Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the name of Velarde and signed by the accused was not implemented and followed.

Certainly, this positive testimony of two witnesses who were directly in charge of the Velarde account cannot prevail over mere speculations indulged in by the prosecution. Certainly, guilt cannot be proven by mere speculations or even probabilities, whether the offense be malum prohibitum or malum in se.

Inference that Ortaliza deposited for accused Estrada is based on conjecture

Another vain attempt made by the prosecution to connect accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada to Account No. 0160-62501-5 in the name of Jose Velarde was the presentation of two (2) employees – one from the Office of the Vice President and another from the Office of the President – to testify on the appointment of one Baby Ortaliza as employee in the Office of the Vice President while accused was still Vice President and alter in the Office of the President when accused became President. The said Baby Ortaliza was pointed to by some bank employees as having deposited some of the checks in the Jose Velarde account at Equitable-PCI Bank and had also deposited in the accused’s account at Security Bank. But the bank officers presented by the prosecution were quick to deny though that they do not know who owns Jose Velarde and that they did not inquire from Ortaliza her agency or employment.

The prosecution would want to foist an inference based on conjecture that since Baby Ortaliza had been an employee of accused, then deposits made by said Baby Ortaliza were also for the accused, which is an entirely baseless conclusion. Baby Ortaliza should have been called as a witness to testify on who had asked her to deposit the said checks in the Jose Velarde account. Or, on the very least, a witness who can testify to this fact could have been presented. Without a competent witness to testify on the source of the checks and for whom said checks were supposed to have been issued, any conclusion that same checks belong to accused merely on the basis of said person being an employee of accused is utterly baseless.

The supposed ‘proof’ revolving around Ortaliza is no proof at all, for it is inference based on conjecture. Indeed, there is a rule of evidence that inference may not be based on another inference.

A party may draw inference so long as it has a factual foundation but ultimate inference arrived at solely by basing inference on which is unsupported by facts is not permissible. Witnesses are not permitted to stack or pyramid inference. “Logical or natural presumption” depends for validity on fact that there is empirically demonstrable probability that, as a matter of common experience presumed fact flows from underlying facts already established. Presumption cannot be based on presumption.

Court cannot assume that J.V. Ejercito account belongs to accused Joseph Estrada

Presumably aware that all these testimonies would not be sufficient and competent enough to establish that accused is the owner of the Jose Velarde account under Account No. 0160-62501-5, the prosecution made another vain attempt in issuing a subpoena for the production of the account of Jose Victor Ejercito with Urban Bank. This was objected to vehemently by the owner of the account as a violation of his rights and of the provision of the bank secrecy law and that the presentation of this evidence would be inadmissible. Be that as it may, the said evidence could only show the account of Jose Victor Ejercito. The testimonies of the bank officers are all to the effect that the said account actually belongs to Jose Victor Ejercito and that they had been dealing with Jose Victor Ejercito in servicing this account. In other words, it cannot be inferred that the herein accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada has a connection with the said account or that he has participation at all in any of the transactions on said account.

This, again, would be another unreasonable inference, which the Honorable Court cannot possibly accept, for such is pure speculation and guesswork that has no basis in fact.

Inference must be the product of reason and logic and it must rest on evidence, i.e. on probability rather than on speculative possibility or conjecture, and must comport with physical laws and human experience. A factfinder’s determination cannot stand if it is based upon mere speculation or conjecture or on inference on another inference. Such a determination is sheer speculation.

From the kind of evidence thus presented by the prosecution, there is no gainsaying that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that accused is guilty of the predicate acts mentioned in sub-paragraph (d) of the Amended Information.

Firstly, the prosecution had failed to prove that herein accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada is the owner of the Jose Velarde Account No. 0160-62501-5 where the alleged 83 checks and P170 Million in cash were deposited. No iota of evidence was presented to competently and sufficiently show that herein accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada opened said account and deposited any amount in said account. On the contrary, the Equitable Bank employees who were directly involved in the opening and the servicing of the Velarde account testified positively that it was Jaime Dichaves who opened and transacted under said Velarde account. The only evidence relied upon by the prosecution are facts from which a pyramiding of inference of facts can be made and from which it aims to draw a baseless conclusion. But the attempt to prove a conclusion of pyramiding one inference upon another is not allowable in any court trying for facts. Inferences must be based on facts. There is a rule of evidence against inference on inference, that is, that one presumption or inference may not be based upon another. And the attempt to create a pattern based on inferences will fail. This also betrays the prosecution’s misapprehension of the definition of ‘pattern’ as used in R.A. 7080. As stated by the Supreme Court, “such pattern arises where the prosecution is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the predicate acts as defined in Section 1, paragraph (d). Pattern is merely a by-product of the proof of the predicate acts.” In other words, the prosecution cannot foist a pattern of overt acts based on a pyramid of inferences as a substitute for proof of the predicate acts, since ‘pattern’ consisting of a series or combination of acts, must be a ‘by-product’ of proof, and is not the proof itself. As the prosecution failed to prove any of the predicate acts of plunder as listed in Section 1 (d) of R.A. 7080, it is impertinent to speak of a “pattern” of overt or criminal acts.

Secondly, the prosecution had failed to prove the most important element of the charge under sub-paragraph (d) which is, that the accused had received commissions, gifts, shares, percentages, kickbacks or any form of pecuniary benefits which were accumulated and deposited in the Jose Velarde account at the Equitable-PCI Bank. There was no witness who testified on the circumstances surrounding the issuance of any of the 83 checks alleged to have been deposited in the Jose Velarde account. Not one stated that any of said check is for payment of a commission or that it is a gift or a percentage or kickback in favor of the accused.

The prosecution had again resorted not only to a pyramiding of inference but to use of clearly inadmissible hearsay evidence in this regard. The circumstances that led to the giving of a P189,700,000.00 check to Jaime Dichaves by Eastern Securities for the purchase by GSIS and SSS of Belle shares had already been discussed more fully above, and it must be repeated that the said P189,700,000.00 check was given to Jaime Dichaves.

The documentary evidence presented by the prosecution at best shows the giving of the said check to Jaime Dichaves apparently as his commission in the sale of the Belle shares to SSS and GSIS and which sales are all above board as testified to by prosecution witnesses themselves. There was no anomalous aspect in the sale of Belle shares and had even profited from such previous sales. Even prosecution witness William Ocier testified that there is nothing wrong with the giving of a profit commission as this is regularly done in business and that the prices for the sale of said shares were even lower than what was prevailing in the market. There was thus no benefit given to the seller nor was there any disadvantage or damage caused to public funds in the said sale of Belle shares. There was likewise no direct evidence to show that accused had profited from the sale of said shares as the evidence for the prosecution could only point to Jaime Dichaves as the one who received the said profit commission.

To constitute plunder as charged in the Amended Information, unjust enrichment must be shown to be the result of the accused taking advantage of his official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines. No iota of proof was shown to prove beyond reasonable doubt that any schemes or means of the predicate acts laid down by the law on plunder was presented.

Indeed, no evidence was presented to prove that accused received “commissions, gifts, shares, percentages, kickbacks or any form of pecuniary benefits in connivance” with anybody whether in the amount of P3,233,104,173.17 as claimed in the complaint or any other amount.

Not a scintilla of evidence was presented to prove deposit by accused of any amount under the account name ‘Jose Velarde’ at the Equitable-PCI Bank or of his ownership thereof.

Even the much touted testimony of Clarissa Ocampo only ended in her admission that the instruction allegedly made by accused as Jose Velarde in Exhibit “E” to debit P500 Million from the Jose Velarde account and credit it to the trust account opened by the accused signing as Jose Velarde was not even followed. For while a debit-credit was ordered by accused signing as Jose Velarde, this was not implemented, probably because the bank officers got to realize that accused President Estrada was not really the owner of the account. The P500 Million deposited to the trust account was not taken from the Velarde account in the debit-credit memo. Rather, a cashier’s check was deposited, drawn by another, presumably by the real owner of the Velarde account.

CONCLUSION

As defined in R.A. 7080, as amended, the crime of plunder has the following elements:

1. The offender must be a public officer as defined in Sec. 1 (a);

2. by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives, business associates, subordinates, or other persons, amasses, accumulates, or acquires ill-gotten wealth under Sec. 1 (d);

3. he amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts described in Sec. 1 (d);

4. there must be pattern indicative of an overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy to achieve said common goal.

i. ‘overall unlawful scheme’ indicates a general ‘plan of action or method’ which the principal accused and public officer and others conniving with him follow to achieve the common goal; or

ii. if there is no overall scheme or where the schemes or methods used vary, the overt or criminal acts must form part of a conspiracy to attain a common goal.

5. the ill-gotten wealth he amasses, accumulates, or acquires through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Sec. 1 (d) is in the aggregate amount or total value of at least P50 million.

In addition to the above elements, the public officer involved must be actuated by criminal intent, or mens rea, since plunder, even if it is a statutory crime, is considered malum in se.

The crime actually attributed in the Information to the accused Estradas, with respect to the alleged collection of jueteng money, contains the following elements:

1. Public officer

2. Taking advantage of his official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence

3. Conspiracy or connivance with co-accused

4. Willfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire, by himself, directly or indirectly ill-gotten wealth –

a. by receiving or collecting directly or indirectly, in several instances, P545 Million, more or less,

b. from illegal gambling in the form of gift, share, percentage, kickback

c. by himself or in connivance with co-accused, and

d. in consideration of toleration, or protection, of illegal gambling

5. Thereby unjustly enriching themselves at the expense and to the damage of the people and the Republic.

The evidence presented by the Prosecution shows that they have not proved any of the elements of the crime of plunder as alleged in the Amended Information. In the first place, while the Information on jueteng collections placed emphasis on the allegation that the said collections were given “in consideration of toleration, or protection, of illegal gambling,” the Prosecution did not even present any evidence as to the existence of jueteng. Not a single witness testified on the nature and character of jueteng or on its existence. Furthermore, no evidence, except the uncorroborated testimony of Chavit Singson, was presented to show that the accused tolerated jueteng anywhere, or that ‘pay-offs’ were made to police or government officials so that the latter would tolerate gambling. The lone testimony of Chavit Singson cannot be taken at face value, for it has been shown that he is an admitted prevaricator.

When a party resorts to falsehood to strengthen his evidence, it is presumed that his case is groundless, and that presumption affects the whole body of evidence presented by him. Even his alleged records of collections cannot be relied upon for, like diaries, they are self-serving. Diaries are inadmissible as evidence because they are self-serving in nature, unless they have the nature of books of account.

Certainly, Singson’s personal records can not be considered books of account. “Books of account” are defined as “books in which merchants, traders and businessmen generally keep their accounts, including journals, ledgers, and other accounting records; entries made in the regular course of business.”

Neither is there any evidence that jueteng operators made payments to the accused. Not one jueteng operator was presented to show that they were guilty of bribing police and government officials. Allegations about bribery of police and government officials so that they would tolerate gambling is pure speculation. Guilt cannot be proven by mere speculations or even probabilities, whether the offense be malum prohibitum or malum in se.

On the alleged misappropriation of R.A. 7171 funds, it is not legally possible to convict any of the accused here, for the only misappropriation that was done here was by the principal witness, Singson. In fact, the latter identified the documents which he admitted he had falsified to cover up his own misdeed. This documentary and testimonial evidence under this charge show that the amount drawn from the fund set up by R.A. 7171 was fully liquidated.

There was also neither connivance nor conspiracy shown among the accused. In fact, the identities of the other co-accused were not even known, and have remained “John Does”. While the identified accused were shown to be known to each other, this is not sufficient proof of connivance or conspiracy in plunder. Mere companionship does not establish conspiracy. In other words, when conspiracy is charged in plunder, there must be more than a combination or series of two or more acts. There must be several acts showing a pattern which is indicative of the over-all scheme or conspiracy.

And then there is the physical impossibility of Singson’s testimony as to the delivery of P130 Million to accused Pres. Estrada. This shows that the alleged delivery of that amount to the accused is a mere concoction of Singson.

With regard to the transactions involving Belle Resources, even the witnesses put up by the prosecution testified that the transactions were valid and regular, and in accordance with the investment guidelines of the SSS and the GSIS. For instance, in the case of the SSS, Belle Resources was in its investment portfolio even before the transaction here in question was entered into. With respect to both the SSS and the GSIS, the purchase price of the Belle shares was in conformity with the prevailing price at the time of purchase. There was really no pressure exerted by the accused on the chairman or presidents of the SSS or GSIS, and their testifying before the Honorable Court was really motivated by their desire to be excluded from prosecution. The machinations of the Department of Justice are evident from the testimonies of the heads of GSIS and SSS.

Further, there is no evidence that directly links accused to the payment of the commission of P189 Million, except the hearsay testimony of Willy Ocier which he read in a tabloid. The alleged ‘Boracay’ mansion transaction is clearly irrelevant and outside the scope of the Information.

On the ‘Jose Velarde’ bank account, it is also not possible to hold any of the accused liable under this charge. First, the source of the funds that went into the Velarde account is unknown. Second, the names in the list of contributors are obviously fictitions. Third, no consideration for the issuance of the checks that were deposited into the account was shown.

More important, the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo is not sufficient to establish that accused Pres. Estrada is ‘Jose Velarde’. For one, the accused signed for ‘Velarde’ under the heading “By” meaning he signed for the real Velarde. Please note that the signature of accused Pres. Estrada here was not honored by the bank, precisely because it knew that he was not Jose Velarde. The signing of Velarde’s name by the accused has been plausibly explained when he took the witness stand.

Furthermore, the irrelevant proofs presented about St. Peter’s Holdings do not at all link accused to Velarde. Courts do not rely on evidence that arouses mere suspicion or conjecture; to lead to conviction, evidence must do more than raise the mere possibility or even probability of guilt. Qualifying circumstances must be proved with the same quantum of evidence as the crime itself.

It emerges clear that the foundation of the Amended Information – that the herein accused Pres. Estrada took advantage of his official position, authority, connection or influence, and that he unjustly enriched himself at the expense of the people and the Republic, has no legal and factual basis. There is even no proof of criminal intent on the part of the accused. Since plunder is a crime that the Supreme Court has declared to be malum in se, it requires proof of criminal intent. As the high tribunal ruled:

“The application of mitigating and extenuating circumstances in the Revised Penal Code to prosecutions under the Anti-Plunder Law indicates quite clearly that mens vea is an element of plunder since the degree of responsibility of the offender is determined by his criminal intent x x x For when the acts punished are inherently immoral or inherently wrong, they are mala in se, and it does not matter that such acts are punished in a special law, especially since in the case of plunder the predicate crimes are mainly mala in se.”

Clearly, the Prosecution here has failed to meet the quantum of proof required to prove any of the four predicate crimes of plunder. It must not be lost sight of that the quantum of proof required to prove the predicate crimes of plunder is the same as that required were they separately prosecuted.

Then it must not be forgotten that the accused herein are presumed innocent. In the words of the Supreme Court –

“In a criminal prosecution for plunder, as in all other crimes, the accused always has in his favor the presumption of innocence which is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and unless the State succeeds in demonstrating by proof beyond reasonable doubt that culpability lies, the accused is entitled to an acquittal.”

PRAYER

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that all the accused be acquitted of all the charges in the Amended Information.

Makati City for Quezon City, June 8, 2007.

ESTELITO P. MENDOZA
4th Floor, Dynavision Bldg.
108 Rada St., Legaspi Village
Makati City
Tel. No. 817-0016
Roll No. 4441
IBP LFN 01652
PTR No. 0267476/01.02.07/Makati

R. A. V. SAGUISAG
4045 Bigasan St., Palanan
1235 Makati City
Tel. No. 831-4279
Roll No. 19190
IBP LFN 601788/12.29.03/Pasig
PTR No. 5328282/01.02.07/Manila

JOSE B. FLAMINIANO
101 Ma. Clara Street,
Sta. Mesa Heights,
1113 Quezon City
Tel. No. 711-9558
Roll No. 5736
IBP No. 711634/03.07.07/Pasig
PTR No. 5333999/01.08.07/Manila

J. ALBERTO C. FLAMINIANO
30th Flr., Tycoon Center
Pearl Drive, Ortigas,
Pasig City 1605
Tel. No. 634-6678
Roll No. 32382
IBP Life Roll No. 06212
PTR No. 3671232/01.19.07/Pasig AGABIN VERZOLA HERMOSO & LAYAOEN LAW OFFICES
26th Floor, Pacific Star Bldg.
Gil Puyat Ave. cor. Makati Ave.
Makati City
Tel. No. 817-7717

By:

PACIFICO A. AGABIN
Roll No. 16609/06.07.61
PTR No. 0385207/01.31.07/Makati
IBP Life Roll No. 251

CLEOFE B. VILLAR-VERZOLA
Roll No. 15279/01.26.61
PTR No. 0385208/01.31.07/Makati
IBP Life Roll No. 04792

DELIA L. HERMOSO
Roll No. 14791/03.03.60
PTR No. 0385203/01.31.07/Makati
IBP No. 701088/01.05.07/Makati

ANNA LIZA G. LOGAN
Roll No. 42751/05.05.98
PTR No. 0385206/01.31.07/Makati
IBP No. 701090/01.05.07/Makati

Copy furnished by personal delivery:
OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR
Sandiganbayan, Centennial Building
Quezon City

TAN ACUT & LOPEZ
Counsel for Accused Edward S. Serapio
23rd Flr., East Tower PSE Center
Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
memo_6-1-07
glecie/jee