Jinggoy Estrada: Attendance at Enrile party a ‘chance encounter’
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada on Monday admitted that he visited senator Juan Ponce Enrile during his colleague’s 91st birthday on Valentine’s Day but it was only “by chance.”
Estrada, who was at the Sandiganbayan for his bail hearing from plunder over the pork barrel scam, said he went to the PNP General Hospital, where Enrile was detained, to have his blood pressure checked. It was about 1:30 p.m.
“It so happened that it was the birthday of Sen. Enrile nearby. Malapit lang eh… Being a former Senate President and still my colleague in the Senate, I greeted him a Happy Birthday. So what’s wrong about it?” Estrada said.
Estrada said he should not be blamed for suffering from pain in the neck due to high blood pressure.
When pressed on that it seemed coincidental that he would fall ill on Enrile’s birthday, Estrada retorted:
“Kasalanan ko ba iyon kung sumakit ang batok ko? Namimili ba iyon?” (Is it my fault that I had pain in the back of my neck? I did not choose to have it).”
Earlier, Estrada was reported to have partied with Enrile in the hospital with senator Ramon Revilla Jr. defying court orders that they be secured at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.
Estrada denied that it was a party, saying it was just a small get-together.
“Sana huwag nilang palakihin ang issue (I hope we don’t make a big issue out of it) because this is a non-issue. And I hope that they do not divert the real issue,” Estrada said.
Revilla, who was even photographed at the party, also said that he was at the party by coincidence after having a checkup at the hospital.
The PNP, through spokesperson Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo, cleared Revilla’s visit to Enrile, saying it was “accidental.
The senators’ claims have already been dismissed by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
In a press conference on Feb. 26, 2015, Roxas said the two detained senators never went to the hospital emergency room but only to the Specialty Ward where Enrile’s party was held.
Chief Inspector Raymond Santos, hospital emergency room head, said he was at the emergency room at the times when Estrada and Revilla said they had a checkup but did not see them there.
Roxas also showed a diagram of the PNP Custodial Center, the Emergency Room and the Specialty Ward to show that it would have been impossible for Estrada and Revilla to have visited Enrile by chance.
The secretary pointed out that the Specialty Ward was out of the way and was at least 85 meters from the Emergency Room.
The senators are detained for plunder for allegedly pillaging their Priority Development Assistance Funds under the scheme of Janet Lim-Napoles.
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