Supreme Court allows Estrada bank accounts probe

·Contributor
·2 min read
Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada waves to his supporters in Manila, Philippines on March 28, 2016. (Photo: NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada waves to his supporters in Manila, Philippines on March 28, 2016. (Photo: NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Supreme Court (SC) has given the nod to the Office of the Ombudsman to proceed with its investigation on former President Joseph Estrada’s bank accounts and his alleged mistresses.

In an 18-page ruling decided on March 29 but was only made public on June 28, the SC’s first division said that the Ombudsman is authorized to inquire into the bank accounts of public officials and other government employees under investigation.

The high court also dismissed the petition filed by Allied Banking Corp., now the Philippine National Bank (PNB), challenging the ruling of the Ombudsman ordering them to produce the records of the savings, current, time deposit, trust and foreign currency deposits of former San Juan City mayor Guia Gomez, Laarni Enriquez, Joy Melendrez, Peachy Osorio, Rowena Lopez, Kevin or Kelvin Garcia, and Jose Velarde.

The investigation comes after several complaints were filed against the former president after stepping down in 2001, according to the Ombudsman.

The SC also affirmed the Court of Appeals’ (CA) decision on June 16, 2006 that it has no jurisdiction to review orders or decisions by the Ombudsman involving criminal and non-administrative cases.

PNB’s motion for reconsideration was likewise dismissed on September 20, 2006, by the CA.

“Established is the rule that the CA has jurisdiction over orders, directives and decisions of the Ombudsman in administrative disciplinary cases only. It cannot, therefore, review the orders, directives or decisions of the Ombudsman in criminal or nonadministrative cases,” The SC’s decision read.

“The prevailing doctrine is that the Ombudsman may examine and access bank accounts and records in their investigation, even without pending litigation,” the SC further said.

The SC also noted that while Estrada was granted executive clemency and his rights, including civil and political, have been restored, other investigations and issues against him and others are still active.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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