Trial of Joseph Estrada

Trial of Joseph Estrada

. Soon after his ouster, the same charges were filed against him at the Sandiganbayan.

After a lengthy trial, the Sandiganbayan ruled Estrada not guilty of perjury while ruling him as guilty of plunder and sentenced him to reclusión perpetua. All of his co-accused were acquitted.

The trial

Charges filed

A few months after the January 2001 popular uprising that ousted Estrada, the Philippine Ombudsman filed two charges at the Sandiganbayan on April 4, 2001; one for plunder and the other for perjury.The plunder case consisted of four separate charges: acceptance of 545 million pesos from proceeds of jueteng, an illegal gambling game; misappropriation of 130 million pesos in excise taxes from tobacco; receiving a 189.7-million-peso commission from the sale of the shares of Belle Corporation, a real-estate firm; and owning some 3.2 billion pesos in a bank account under the name "Jose Velarde".The minor charge of perjury is for Estrada underreporting his assets in his 1999 statement of assets and liabilities and for the illegal use of an alias, namely for the Jose Velarde bank account.

Estrada's son, Jinggoy Estrada, an incumbent senator, and Edward Serapio, his personal lawyer were his co-accused. Also charged were Charlie Ang, Yolanda Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, Eleuterio Tan, Delia Rajas, and Jaime Dichaves, who was later added.

Arraignment and plea

Prosecution's case

The Philippine government's prosecution team was led by Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio and other government lawyers. Their case against Joseph Estrada was based on the following:

Defense's case

Former President Joseph Estrada's defense panel, led by Atty. Estelito Mendoza, and composed of former Supreme Court justices and other celebrated Philippine lawyers based their defense on the following points:


Initial reports of the nature of the conviction pronounced Estrada guilty of the PHP 545 million jueteng case and the Belle Corporation case, while the other two charges were dropped.

The sentence of reclusión perpetua also includes the return to the government of the over PHP 200 million Erap Muslim Youth foundation and PHP 189 million Jose Velarde monies, the penalty of civil interdiction, and perpetual absolute exclusion from public office.

The Court has also ordered the arrest of all the other co-defendants in the case.

On September 12, 2007, Joseph Estrada was acquitted of perjury but found guilty of plunder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from public office and forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth.

On September 12, 2007, Sandiganbayan's Presiding Justice Teresita De Castro and two other magistrates unanimously acquitted his son, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, and a lawyer Edward Serapio of plunder charges. The Fallo of the 262-page Decision declared the forfeiture in favor of the government: P542.701 million (bank accounts including interest), P189 million (Jose Velarde accounts including interest) and the Boracay mansion in New Manila, Quezon City. [ [ GMA NEWS.TV, Sandigan forfeits Erap's 'Velarde' accounts, Boracay mansion] ] [ [ New York Times, Philippines Ex-President Convicted] ]

Only the fallo or dispositive part of two judgments were read (resulting to only 15 minutes judicial proceedings).cite news | last = Gopalakrishnan| first =Raju | title =Philippines' Estrada deadpan when sentenced to life| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-12 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12 ] During the reading of the judgment, witnesses said Joseph Estrada cried; his wife, Luisa Ejercito Estrada, Jackie Ejercito Lopez, San Juan Mayor Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito, (Estrada's son with Guia Gomez), other family members and mistresses (including, Laarni Enriquez) all wept during the promulgation by the clerk. [ [ GMA NEWS. TV, Erap plunder drama: The wife cried, and mistress, too] ]

Estrada's lawyer Estelito Mendoza stated that Estrada will file a motion for reconsideration (before September 27) of the 262-page Judgment and then appeal the verdict to the High Tribunal. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry said it will support a presidential pardon for Estrada. Jinggoy Estrada said "The people will receive this with moral outrage and disgust. The time of reckoning will come. That time may not be too far now." ``This verdict is intended to legitimize the occupancy of an illegal tenant in Malacanang" [ [ Bloomberg, Philippines' Estrada Guilty of `Plunder,' Faces Life] ] [ [, Estrada to file motion for reconsideration--lawyers] ]

Estrada, in Filipino Barong Tagalog (pineapple fibre dress shirt and cream trousers) with his trademark wristband stated that "I thought the role of justice would prevail here but really it's a kangaroo court"." President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo stated that the court's decision must be accepted: "We hope and pray that the rule of law will prevail"." Estrada's counsel Rene A.V. Saguisag issued the statement:"VICTORS' JUSTICE" - "It's victors' justice. It's ruling class justice. The special division (of the court) was programmed to convict. We never had a chance"." Estrada will appeal the verdict and would be under automatic review at the Supreme Court of the Philippines.cite news | last = Mogato| first =Manny | title =Philippines' Estrada gets life| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-12 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12 ]

Estrada told AFP that he was resigned for the latest drama in his presidency: "last and best performance of my life"." The prosecution's lead counsel Dennis Villa-Ignacio proudly asserted: "It shows that our judicial system really works.This is the last chance for the state to show that we can do it, that we can charge, prosecute and convict a public official regardless of his stature"." [ [, Deposed Philippine president given life sentence for plunder] ]

Joseph Estrada rose from obscurity to having been top Filipino film star, then hit the mark, by claiming the Presidency until destiny sent him to jail. He stated to AFP "I feel depressed, but it's my style not to show it"." Before the release of the fatalistic judgment, he warned that he prevent his fans from making street protests. [ [, Estrada: from movie star to Philippine president -- to jailbird] ]

Estrada returned to his villa in Tanay, Rizal (driven on from a golf cart), to the helicopter) [ [, Estrada back in Tanay resthouse] ] The court permitted him to return to his villa, "until further orders". [ [ Washington Post, Philippines' Estrada gets life] ]

Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy stated that the arrival of the USS Chung-Hoon and USS Milius, Missile destroyers was a "goodwill visit" to strengthen the ties between the U.S. and the Philippines. [ [, US warships arrive in RP] ]


On September 26, 2007, Joseph Estrada appealed by filing a 63-page motion for reconsideration of the Sandiganbayan judgment penned by Teresita de Castro (submitting 5 legal grounds). [ [, Philippines' ex-president Estrada appeals conviction for plunder] ] [ [, Convicted Philippine ex-president files reconsideration motion] ] Estrada alleged that the court erred "when it convicted him by acquitting his alleged co-conspirators"." [ [, Estrada asks Sandiganbayan to reverse conviction, Cites acquittal of co-accused] ]

On October 5, 2007, the Sandiganbayan's Special Division ruled to have set for October 19, oral argument (instead of a defense reply) on Joseph Estrada’s motion for reconsideration. Estrada asked court permission to attend the hearing, since it ordered the prosecution to file comment before October 11. [ [ ManilaBulletin, Erap wants to attend Sandigan oral arguments] ]

Pardon and release from detention

On October 22, 2007, Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera stated that Joseph Estrada is seeking a “"full, free, and unconditional pardon"” from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Estrada's lawyer Jose Flaminiano wrote Arroyo: "The time has come to end President Estrada's fight for justice and vindication before the courts. Today [Monday] , we filed a withdrawal of his Motion for Reconsideration"." Estrada, 70, stressed the "delicate condition" of his mother in asking for pardon. [ [ IHT, Ousted Philippine president withdraws appeal for his plunder conviction, seeks pardon] ]

On October 25, 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo granted executive clemency to Joseph Estrada based on the recommendation by the Department of Justice (DoJ). Acting Executive Secretary and Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye quoted the signed Order: "In view hereof in pursuant of the authority conferred upon me by the Constitution, I hereby grant Executive clemency to Joseph Ejercito Estrada, convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby restored to his civil and political rights"."Bunye noted that Estrada committed in his application not to seek public office, and he would be free from his Tanay resthouse on October 26, noon. [ [, Philippine leader pardons ex-president Estrada] ] [ [, Arroyo grants pardon to Estrada] ] [ [, Estrada granted executive clemency] ] On October 26, 2007, after almost 7 years of detention, Joseph Estrada was finally released after the Sandiganbayan promulgated the historical Resolution. [ [, Sandigan approves Estrada release] ]


On September 14, 2007, Chief presidential legal counsel Sergio Antonio Apostol officially stated that Sandiganbayan Justices Teresita de Castro, Diosdado Peralta and Francisco Villaruz Jr. should decline Judicial and Bar Council nomination and await other vacancies to ease pressure on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo: “"Para hindi na maipit ang Presidente (In order to spare the President from pressure), they should withdraw their nomination. Parang iyong nangyari kay Justice (Gregory) Ong (Remember what happened in Justice Gregory S. Ong’s case) ...It’s a sacrifice on her part..Hindi niya maiwanan (ang posisyon) (She cannot leave the Sandiganbayan) because of the case of Joseph Estrada - Erap (Estrada’s nickname)"." [ [ GMA NEWS.TV, Palace urges Sandigan justices to decline SC nomination] ] In the of the verdict, De Castro, Villaruz and Peralta are now at the receiving end of 2 unsolicited advices from key officials. Senate of the Philippines Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan, ex-officio member, Judicial and Bar Council stated that the 3 Sandiganbayan justices "should have the delicadeza not to accept a promotion to the highest tribunal to dispel any suspicion that they pronounced Mr. Estrada guilty expecting a reward from Palace ... We do not want to see a cloud of suspicion over the appointees to the Supreme Court. They should always be above suspicio"n.” [ [ Manila Standard Today, A no-win situation] ]

On November 5, 2007, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, in a privileged speech vowed to block the appointment to the Supreme Court of Sandiganbayan Justices Teresita De Castro and Francisco Villaruz, Jr. (who convicted his father - President Joseph Estrada). Jinggoy said that: "Such a promotion would seem like a reward in exchange for the guilty verdict against the deposed President. We are convinced, then and now, that the special court created to exclusively try the case of President Estrada was established precisely to convict him, which is what exactly happened"." [ [, Jinggoy vows to block Sandigan justices' appointment to SC] ] Also, Joseph Estrada opposed court seizure of his assets, stating that: "These properties are mine. I acquired them way back when I was still a movie actor"." [ [, Estrada blocks Philippine court order to seize assets] ]

On December 4, Sandiganbayan Special Division chairperson Teresita de Castro was appointed as the new associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. [ [ De Castro takes oath as new SC justice] GMANews.TV]

On January 10, 2008, Edgardo Urieta, Sandiganbayan chief of the Sheriff and Security Services Office released the 2 page report (based on 13-page Banco de Oro to the Sandiganbayan Special Division) which discovered intact due to the 2001 levy by BIR distraint - P 1.107 billion ($1 = P 41) account of Joseph Estrada: P500 million - 'promissory note and chattel mortgage'; 450 million shares of Waterfront Philippines valued at P 427.5 million; and 300 million shares of Wellex Industries worth P 84 million; cash deposits in a common trust fund investment account of P 95.76 million. [ [ GMA NEWS.TV, P1-billion alleged Erap fund discovered in Banco de Oro] ]


The Philippine government, through Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye has issued a statement to the effect of the government's respect and deference to the authority of the Sandiganbayan, and the hope that this "sad" episode in the country's history will not "permanently distract" the country from peace and progress.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo canceled a scheduled attendance at a gathering of business leaders in Makati City that afternoon due to security reasons. [ [ Security threats thwart Arroyo attendance in econ briefing] Retrieved Sept. 12, 2007.] President Arroyo was scheduled to drop by the Philippine Mid-Year Economic Briefing which will be held 1:30 p.m. at the Rizal Ballroom of the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

The Philippine Stock Exchange recovered from a two-day slump, closing at 3,307.60 points, up by 1.21%. The Philippine peso moderately strengthened against the US dollar.


* [ Estrada guilty of plunder; perjury rap dropped] . The Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 12, 2007.


*cite news | last = | first =| title =FACTBOX-Key facts on Philippines' former leader Estrada| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-11 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last = | first =| title =Philippine court sets date for verdict on Estrada| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-07 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last = | first =| title =Security tight for Philippines Estrada verdict| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-11 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last = | first =| title =Trial of Philippines' Estrada comes to a close| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-06-15 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last = Gopalakrishnan| first =Raju | title =Philippines' Estrada deadpan when sentenced to life| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-12 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last = Gopalakrishnan| first =Raju| title =Philippines on alert ahead of Estrada verdict| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-11 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last = Mogato| first =Manny | title =INTERVIEW-Philippines' Estrada confident of acquittal| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-06 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last = Mogato| first =Manny | title =Manila security forces prepare for Estrada verdict| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-08-28 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last =Mogato | first =Manny| title =Philippines' Estrada faces the spartan life inside| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-12 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last = Mogato| first =Manny | title =Philippines' Estrada gets life| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-12 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12
*cite news | last = Mogato| first =Manny | title =Philippines' Estrada guilty of plunder, gets life| work =International| language =English | publisher =Reuters| date =2007-09-11 | url = | accessdate = 2007-09-12

External links

* [, Key dates in case of ex-Philippines leader Estrada]
* [ GMA NEWS.TV, A one-stop, multimedia microsite: The Estrada plunder trial verdict]
* [ GMA NEWS.TV, Estrada Plunder Trial]
* [ TOC Plaintiff's Memorandum]
* [ Plaintiff's Memorandum]
* ['s-verdict GMA Video, Court Session on Joseph Estrada's verdict]
* GMA Video, Sandigan finds Erap guilty of plunder]
* [ GMA Video, Interview with Estrada after conviction]
* [ GMA Video, Estradas overcome with sadness, after verdict]

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