THE Office of the Ombudsman has urged the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to compel former Senator Jinggoy Estrada to show cause on why he should not be cited for contempt for submitting an alleged bogus invitation letter for a speaking engagement in the United States of America.
The Ombudsman said that allowing Estrada to travel to the US “may constitute a travesty of justice”.
This after the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG) denied that it had invited the former lawmaker as guest speaker in its annual membership meeting in Michigan, United States.
“Estrada should be required to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt of court for using a falsified invitation letter to buttress his motion. It was accused Estrada who used and stood to benefit from the fake invitation letter,” the Ombudsman’s supplemental motion last Friday.
During the hearing on Monday, Sandiganbayan Fifth Division Chairman Associate Justice Rafael Lagos gave Estrada’s camp three day to file its comment on the motion.
Estrada alleged that he was expected to discuss nationwide issues such as the alleged extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs, the mess concerning the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia at the annual USPGG membership meeting on May 20, 2018.
The son of former President Joseph Estrada said he will also discuss the federalism plan of the government at the said event. He attached a letter-invitation signed by USPGG president William Dechavez in his motion.
Aside from the supposed speaking engagement, Estrada said that he is scheduled to have a medical consultation with an orthopedic surgeon at the Stanford Hospital in California for his recurring shoulder problem and go on vacation with his family.
The anti-graft court’s Fifth Division granted his motion but the formal travel authority has yet to be issued.
However, USPGG chairperson and New York-based philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis and president Rodel Rodis denied that there was such a gathering. They also said that Dechavez has been on leave.
They clarified that a certain Tony Antonio pushed for the invitation of Estrada to Dechavez, who responded that he can only invite the former lawmaker in his personal capacity.
Lewis and Rodis also wrote the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang in a bid to deny the issuance to allow Estrada to attend the supposed gathering.
The Ombudsman said that the falsity of the letter received by Estrada “makes his motion misleading and deceiving, warranting the reconsideration” of the Sandigabayan resolution allowing his US trip.
“If a person had in his possession a falsified document and he made use of it, taking advantage of it and profiting thereby — the clear presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification,” the Ombudsman said.
Estrada, who is out on a P1.3 million bail, is facing plunder and 11 counts of graft charges for allegedly pocketing P183.8 million in “kickbacks” by allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund to bogus non-governmental organizations of detained businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Napoles is the alleged “brains” behind the P10 billion pork barrel scam.