‘Noche Buena’ in jail, but no holiday cheer for Revilla, Estrada
MANILA, Philippines – It was a reunion of sorts for both the families of senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada as the two fellow inmates spent their Christmas Eve partying in detention.
Clifford Elorde, Revilla’s media relations officer, said at least 70 members from both Revilla and Estrada’s families celebrated Christmas Eve on Wednesday in a small area outside half the size of a basketball court.
Umbrellas and a few tables were set up at the area to accommodate both inmates’ family members, he said.
Among Revilla’s family members – his wife Cavite Representative Lani Mercado, their children Bryan, Jolo (current Cavite Vice Governor), Inah, Gianna, Loudette and Ram, and even his father former senator Don Ramon Sr. – attended the gathering.
Jinggoy’s family members – his wife Precy, his children Jel, Julian, Jolo and Julienne, his father former President and now Manila mayor Joseph Estrada, and mother former senator Loi Estrada – were present to try to cheer him up.
There was singing using a guitar instead of a karaoke, and there was a raffle for the senators’ staff and gift-giving, but there were no games, Elorde said.
And unlike the typical Filipino celebration of Christmas, there were no alcoholic drinks to match the Christmas feast their families prepared, he added.
“On Christmas spirit, syempre malungkot talaga… Pinilit maging masaya, lalo na ‘yung family, makikita ‘yung effort ng family ni Jinggoy at Bong na pasayahin silang dalawa kagabi,” Elorde, who was present at the reunion, told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview Thursday.
“Nag-iiyakan din sila. Malungkot na malungkot talaga ang ambiance,” Elorde added.
But Revilla and Estrada were lucky, in a way, as they were able to celebrate their “Noche Buena,” the midnight meal to start off the Christmas Day, with their loved ones, he said.
In a television interview Wednesday night, Mercado said they were allowed to stay for the evening in the custodial center.
“This is the first time we are celebrating it together with the Ejercitos… Sa hirap at ginhawa, lungkot at saya,” Mercado said in the interview.
“’Yung hotdog, hindi nawawala, saka barbecue kapag Pasko. Ang importante, kumpleto ang pamilya… They’ve allowed us to stay naman for the evening…,” Mercado said.
Elorde said Revilla and Estrada’s family were able to celebrate Noche Buena in detention.
“Nagkantahanan sila, nag-party the whole night… Simpleng kainan lang, kwentuhan. After the Mass, nagkantahan sila sa guitar,” Elorde said.
“Hanggang the whole night, sinalubong nila ang Pasko,” he added.
But how were the senators able to spend Noche Buena with their families even if the allowed visitation period on weekdays is only until 5 p.m.?
As of press time, the police could not be reached for comment. The police had maintained that there is no special treatment for the senators detained for plunder, a no bail offense.
Revilla and Estrada, along with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, are charged for allegedly coursing their PDAF to ghost projects for kickbacks under the scheme of alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. Napoles is locked up at the Camp Bagong Diwa female dormitory, while Enrile is under hospital detention.
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