September 16, 2007 Sunday
In sum, the Court finds that prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt the commission by the principal accused former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada of the crime of plunder but not so in the case of former Mayor Jose Jinggoy Estrada and Atty. Edward Serapio.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered in Criminal Case No. 26558 finding the accused, Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of PLUNDER defined in and penalized by Republic Act No. 7080, as amended. On the other hand, for failure of the prosecution to prove and establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the Court finds the accused Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Atty. Edward S. Serapio NOT GUILTY of the crime of plunder, and accordingly, the Court hereby orders their ACQUITTAL.
The penalty imposable for the crime of plunder under Republic Act No. 7080, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, is Reclusion Perpetua to Death. There being no aggravating or mitigating circumstances, however, the lesser penalty shall be applied in accordance with Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code. Accordingly, accused Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and the accessory penalties of civil interdiction during the period of sentence and perpetual absolute disqualification.
The period within which accused Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada has been under detention shall be credited to him in full as long as he agrees voluntarily in writing to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners. Moreover, in accordance with Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7080, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, the Court hereby declares the forfeiture in favor of the government of the following:
(1) The total amount of Five Hundred Forty Two Million Seven Hundred Ninety One Thousand Pesos (P545,291,000.00), with interest and income earned, inclusive of the amount of Two Hundred Million Pesos (P200,000,000.00), deposited in the name and account of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation.
(2) The amount of One Hundred Eighty Nine Million Pesos (P189,000,000.00), inclusive of interests and income earned, deposited in the Jose Velarde account.
(3) The real property consisting of a house and lot dubbed as “Boracay Mansion” located at #100 11th Street, New Manila, Quezon City.
The cash bonds posted by accused Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Atty. Edward S. Serapio are hereby ordered cancelled and released to the said accused or their duly authorized representatives upon presentation of the original receipt evidencing payment thereof and subject to the usual accounting and auditing procedures. Likewise, the holddeparture orders issued against the said accused are hereby recalled and declared functus oficio.
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
SGD. FRANCISCO H. VILLARUZ, JR., Associate Justice
SGD. DIOSDADO M. PERALTA, Associate Justice
After a judicious evaluation of the evidence in this case, the Court cannot assert with moral certainty that accused former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada is guilty of the crime charged. All told, the prosecution failed to establish the guilt of the accused with moral certainty. Its evidence falls short of the quantum of proof required for conviction for the crime of Perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code. Accordingly, the constitutional presumption of the petitioner's innocence must be upheld and he must be acquitted.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in Criminal Case No. 26905 finding the accused former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada NOT GUILTY of the crime of Perjury defined in and penalized by Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code, and he is hereby ACQUITTED.
Accordingly, the Hold Departure Order dated February 4, 2002 issued by the Court against accused former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada is hereby recalled and rendered functus oficio.
TERESITA LEONARDO DE-CASTRO
FRANCISCO H. VILLARUZ, JR.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
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