Complete Erap Verdict

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    REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

    SANDIGANBAYAN

    QUEZON CITY

    ---

    SPECIAL DIVISION

    PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES Criminal Case No. 26558 Plaintiff, For: PLUNDER

    - versus

    JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA ,

    Former President of the

    Republic of the Philippines,

    JOSE JINGGOY ESTRADA ,

    CHARLIE ATONG TIU HAY SY ANG , EDWARD S. SERAPIO ,

    YOLANDA T. RICAFORTE , PRESENT:

    ALMA ALFARO ,

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    JOHN DOE also known as LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, PJ ,Chairperson

    ELEUTERIO RAMOS TAN or MR. UY , VILLARUZ, J R., and

    JANE DOE also known as PERALTA, J J .DELIA RAJAS ,

    JOHN DOES and JANE DOES , PROMULGATED:

    Accused.

    September 12, 2007

    x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

    DECISION

    Republic Act (RA) No. 7080 as amended was approved on J uly

    12, 1991, creating and introducing into our criminal legal system the crime

    of plunder. This law penalizes public officers who would amassimmense wealth through a series or combination of overt or criminal acts

    described in the statute in violation of the public trust. RA No. 7080 or the

    Anti-Plunder Law was a consolidation of Senate Bill no. 733 and House

    Bill No. 22752. The Explanatory Note of Senate Bill No. 733, quoted in

    the case of Estrada v. Sandiganbayan (G.R. No. 148965, February 26,

    2002, 377 SCRA 538, 555), explains the reason behind the law as follows:

    Plunder, a term chosen from other equally aptterminologies like kleptocracy and economic treason, punishes theuse of high office for personal enrichment, committed thru a seriesof acts done not in the public eye but in stealth and secrecy over aperiod of time, that may involve so many persons, here andabroad, and which touch so many states and territorial units. The

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    acts and/or omissions sought to be penalized do not involvesimple cases of malversation of public funds, bribery, extortion,theft and graft but constitute plunder of an entire nation resulting inmaterial damage to the national economy. The above-describedcrime does not yet exist in Philippine statute books. Thus, theneed to come up with a legislation as a safeguard against thepossible recurrence of the depravities of the previous regime andas a deterrent to those with similar inclination to succumb to thecorrupting influence of power.

    The majority opinion in the above-cited case, penned by

    Honorable J ustice J osue N. Bellosillo, further explained the rationale

    behind the Anti-Plunder Law in this manner:

    Our nation has been racked by scandals of corruptionand obscene profligacy of officials in high places which haveshaken its very foundation. The anatomy of graft and corruptionhas become more elaborate in the corridors of time asunscrupulous people relentlessly contrive more and moreingenious ways to milk the coffers of the government. Drastic andradical measures are imperative to fight the increasinglysophisticated, extraordinarily methodical and economically

    catastrophic looting of the national treasury. Such is the PlunderLaw, especially designed to disentangle those ghastly tissues of grand-scale corruption which, if left unchecked, will spread like amalignant tumor and ultimately consume the moral andinstitutional fiber of our nation. The Plunder Law, indeed, is aliving testament to the will of the legislature to ultimately eradicatethis scourge and thus secure society against the avarice and othervenalities in public office.

    These are times that try mens souls. In the checkeredhistory of this nation, few issues of national importance can equalthe amount of interest and passion generated by petitioners

    ignominious fall from the highest office, and his eventualprosecution and trial under a virginal statute. This continuing sagahas driven a wedge of dissension among our people that maylinger for a long time. Only by responding to the clarion call for patriotism, to rise above factionalism and prejudices, shall weemerge triumphant in the midst of ferment. [EmphasisSupplied]

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    The present case is the first of its kind to be filed charging the

    highest official of the land, a former President, among others, of the

    offense of plunder. Needless to state, the resolution of this case shall set

    significant historical and legal precedents.

    Throughout the six years over which the court proceedings in this

    case unfolded, this Court confronted numerous novel and complicated

    legal issues (including the constitutionality of the plunder law, propriety of

    house arrest, among others), heard lengthy testimonies from several

    dozens of witnesses from both sides and perused voluminous

    documentary evidence and pleadings from the parties. Considering the

    personalities involved and the nature of the crime charged, the present

    case aroused particularly intense interest from the public. Speculations on

    the probable outcome of the case received unparalleled attention from the

    media and other sectors of society. Indeed, the factual and legal

    complexities of the case are further compounded by attempts to

    sensationalize the proceedings for various ends.

    However, this Court is ever mindful of its imperative duty to act as

    an impartial arbiter: (a) to serve the interest of the State and the public in

    punishing those who would so severely abuse their public office and those

    private individuals would aid them or conspire with them and (b) to protect

    the right of the accused to be only convicted upon guilt proven beyond

    reasonable doubt. Thus, the decision of this Court follows, upon no otherconsideration other than the law and a review of the evidence on record.

    STATEMENT OF THE CASE

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    AND THE PROCEEDINGS

    __________________________

    This case for plunder commenced with the filing on April 4, 2001 of

    the Information which is quoted hereunder:

    INFORMATION

    The undersigned Ombudsman Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman, hereby accuses former

    J oseph Ejercito Estrada, together with J ose J inggoy Estrada,Charlie Atong Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, AlmaAlfaro, Eleuterio Tan a.k.a. Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, J aneDoe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and J ohn & J ane Does, of the crime of Plunder, defined and penalized under R.A. No. 7080, as amendedby Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 7659, committed as follows:

    That during the period from J une, 1998 to J anuary, 2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused J oseph Ejercito Estrada, by himself and inconspiracy with his co-accused, businessassociates and persons heretofore named, bytaking advantage of his official position, authority,connection or influence as President of theRepublic of the Philippines, did then and therewillfully, unlawfully and criminally amass,accumulate and acquire ill-gotten wealth, andunjustly enrich himself in the aggregate amount of P4,097,804,173.17, more or less, through acombination and series of overt and criminal acts,

    described as follows:

    (a) by receiving, collecting, directly orindirectly, on many instances, so-called juetengmoney from gambling operators in connivance withco-accused J ose J inggoy Estrada, Yolanda T.Ricaforte and Edward Serapio, as witnessed byGov. Luis Chavit Singson, among other witnesses,in the aggregate amount of FIVE HUNDRED

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    FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS (P545,000,000.00),more or less, in consideration of their protectionfrom arrest or interference by law enforcers in theirillegal jueteng activities; and

    (b) by misappropriating, converting andmiusing for his gain and benefit public fund in theamount of ONE HUNDRRED THIRTY MILLIONPESOS (P130,000,000.00), more or less,representing a portion of the One Hundred SeventyMillion Pesos (P170,000,000.00) tobacco excisetax share allocated for the Province of Ilocos Surunder 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 J aneDoe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, as witnessed by Gov. LuisChavit Singson, among other witnesses; and

    (c) by directing, ordering and compelling theGovernment Service Insurance System (GSIS) andthe Social Security System (SSS) to purchase andbuy a combined total of 681,733,000 shares of stock of the Belle Corporatiion in the aggregategross 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 collectingfor his personal gain and benefit, as in fact he didcollect and receive the sum of ONE HUNDREDEIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED

    THOUSAND PESOS (P 189,700,000.00), ascommission from said stock purchase; and

    (d) by unjustly enriching himself in the amountof THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY

    THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREEPESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (P3,233,104,173.17) comprising his unexplainedwealth acquired, accumulated and amassed by himunder his account name J ose Velarde withEquitable PCI Bank;

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

    CONTRARY TO LAW.

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