Sandiganbayan denies birthday liberty for Jinggoy Estrada
MANILA, Philippines — Detained senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada will have to spend his birthday in jail after the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division denied his request to attend a birthday Mass for him in his hometown in San Juan City.
In a resolution, the antigraft court said Estrada as a detained accused in the pork barrel scam could not be granted the rights of a free man.
“As has been consistently reiterated by this court, accused cannot be accorded the full enjoyment of civil and political rights as a necessary consequence of his detention,” the court said.
The court also noted that Estrada’s request was not an urgent matter.
“What the accused seeks is not of an emergency nature. Allowing the accused to hear Mass outside the confines of his prison would accord him the liberties of a free man with all the privileges appurtenant to his position,” the court said.
It added that allowing Estrada his request would be tantamount to a “mockery” of the justice system.
“Such an aberrant situation not only elevates accused’s status to that of a special class, it also would be a mockery of the purposes of the correction system,” the court said.
“At the risk of creating a bad precedent, therefore, accused’s reprieve from jail for his natal day cannot be accommodated,” it added.
Estrada’s lawyer Noel Malaya on Monday argued before the court that the Sandiganbayan had allowed former-President now-Manila mayor Joseph Estrada to attend a Mass during his birthday even while he was detained for plunder over illegal gambling.
The older Estrada, Jinggoy’s father, was eventually pardoned by former President Gloria Arroyo after his conviction.
“That is then, this is now,” Associate Justice Alex Gesmundo told the defense.
Estrada, who turns 52 on Feb. 17, had asked the court to grant him a three-hour furlough to attend the 3 p.m. birthday mass for him at the Pinaglabanan Church.
“It is respectfully prayed to allow (Estrada) a furlough for three hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. under the usual escort and security conditions at the accused’s expense,” the motion read.
Estrada and Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center as they face plunder and graft charges over the pork barrel scam.
Meanwhile, accused senator Juan Ponce Enrile is under hospital detention at the police hospital in Camp Crame. Accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is also detained for plunder at the Camp Bagong Diwa female dormitory.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.