SC allows Ombudsman to investigate bank accounts of Estrada, others

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 30) – The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to proceed with the investigation of the bank accounts of former President Joseph Estrada and his alleged mistresses.

In a decision made public on Thursday, the SC junked the petition filed by the Philippine National Bank, which contended that the Court of Appeals (CA) made a mistake in its 2006 verdict that denied their plea to stop the Ombudsman from compelling Estrada and his alleged mistresses to produce their bank accounts.

The bank records of former San Juan City mayor Guia Gomez, Laarni Enriquez, Joy Melendrez, Peachy Osorio, Rowena Lopez, Kevin or Kelvin Garcia and Jose Velarde are the subjects of the probe by the Ombudsman in its efforts to probe Estrada after he resigned as president in 2001.

The high court noted the CA has no power to review the orders and decisions crafted by the Ombudsman involving criminal or non-administrative cases.

“Established is the rule that the CA has jurisdiction over orders, directives, and decisions of the OMB (Ombudsman) in administrative disciplinary cases only,” the decision reads.

The SC emphasized that Estrada was convicted of a criminal case after he was found guilty of plunder.

The decision also mentioned that despite the restoration of Estrada’s civil and political rights after his successor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo granted him an executive clemency in 2007, the Ombudsman can still proceed with its probe on the bank accounts of the former president and his alleged mistresses.

The SC added that the Ombudsman has the authority to look into the bank accounts of public officials and employees under investigation by the government.

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