Jinggoy Estrada: What kickbacks dummies?
MANILA, Philippines–Detained Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Monday denied transacting with alleged conduits to rake in kickbacks from the alleged misuse of his pork barrel funds as he lamented the “trial by publicity” against him.
Estrada told reporters after his bail hearing at the Sandiganbayan that the prosecution was trying to make him appear like a “thief.”
He cited a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, which said that Estrada received over P150 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) coursed through bank dummies over a period of six years.
The kickbacks allegedly from businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles were supposedly deposited in Estrada’s bank accounts by his alleged conduits Juan Ng and Francis Yengco.
“They are trying to condition the minds of the public that we are thieves. Pinapalabas nila masamang tao kami. I think that is being unfair,” Estrada said.
Estrada said he never allowed Yengco and Ng to “meddle” with his PDAF.
“I never authorized Ng or Yengco or anybody to meddle or transact with my PDAF. Whatever transactions they have, I have nothing to do with it,” Estrada said.
Ng, an acquaintance of Estrada, is a businessman trading in steel roofing in San Juan, where the senator had served as mayor, the Inquirer reported.
Meanwhile, Yengco is a former San Juan city administrator and later Senate director. He now heads the General Services Office of Manila, whose mayor is the senator’s father, former President Joseph Estrada.
According to documents cited by the Inquirer, the commissions appeared in Estrada’s bank accounts starting Sept. 21, 2007. Of this amount, check deposits, which ranged from P1 million to P10 million, totaled P116.6 million and were recorded until July 26, 2012.
Estrada denied any wrongdoing and said the Inquirer report was based on “speculations.”
“The headline of the Inquirer is misleading. They are trying to condition the public’s mind that I stole public funds. That is not true. These are entirely speculations,” he said, noting that the report itself pointed out that there was no direct transfer from Napoles to his bank accounts.
Estrada slammed the prosecution for coursing to the media the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) bank inquiry report, which he said was the basis of the Inquirer article. He added that his defense was not given a copy.
“Why was the report first leaked to the media before being presented to the court or before providing a copy to the respondent who has already formally and repeatedly requested such (among many documents) for us to be apprised of the allegations and issue proper response? Clearly we are being tried by publicity here,” Estrada also said in a statement issued on Monday.
“We were not given the opportunity to rebut the allegations and we were not given copies of the affidavits or testimonies of the co-respondents or witnesses which were then used as basis to finding probable cause against us and to elevate the case before the Sandiganbayan,” Estrada said.
Monday’s bail hearing was adjourned early after Estrada’s defense objected to the prosecution’s move to present AMLC bank officer Orlando Negradas, who conducted the bank inquiry. The defense said it had yet to be furnished with a copy of the bank inquiry report.
The Fifth Division only allowed Negradas to present the report but not its findings because both panels would have to stipulate on the report.
Estrada is detained at the Philippine National Police with co-accused Senator Ramon Revilla Jr.
Meanwhile, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is under hospital detention.
Napoles, the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind, is detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
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