Jinggoy allowed to vote in San Juan — but not for daughter
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division on Thursday allowed detained Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada to cast his vote outside his detention cell in San Juan in the coming May 9 polls, but with a caveat—he can’t vote for his daughter Janella, a vice mayoral candidate.
The court allowed Estrada to vote from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., despite the opposition filed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor urging the court to deny Estrada’s request for lack of merit.
The court said the prosecution’s opposition should be set aside following the Supreme Court ruling allowing another detained official, former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to vote in her hometown in Lubao.
However, the court said Estrada is only allowed to cast his vote in the national elections, and not local, which means he cannot vote for the vice mayoralty candidacy of his daughter.
The court said it is only allowing Estrada to vote for the national electoral posts because of a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court on detainee voting at the local level.
The court said it allowed Estrada to vote outside his detention cell because of the absence of a polling precinct at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center, where he is detained.
The court ordered the police to escort Estrada not earlier than 11 a.m. in the polling precinct at Xavier School and be returned to his detention cell not later than 1 p.m.
The court also prohibited the accused from going to any other place and from using any communication devices. The court also prohibited any media interviews.
It added that the security expenses would be shouldered by Estrada.
In opposing the motion, prosecution said Estrada’s request for detainee voting has no legal basis because of the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution on detainee voting.
Estrada also failed to prove that there is no special polling center at the PNP Custodial Center, where he is detained.
“Worse, there is no showing that it is logistically feasible for his custodian to escort him out of his detention,” the prosecution said.
In his urgent motion before the anti-graft court Fifth Division, Estrada asked for its approval to allow him to vote from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 9 in his voting precinct at Xavier School in San Juan under the security of the PNP.
Estrada said he would shoulder the expenses caused by police security.
Estrada asked the court’s leave adding that he has a right to suffrage allowed for by the Supreme Court for detainees.
He said he wanted to vote outside his detention cell because detainee voting at the custodial center is only for national electoral positions. He would also like to cast his vote for the local San Juan elections.
Besides his daughter Janella, Guia Gomez, the mother of Jinggoy’s half-brother Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito with former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, is gunning for her third and last term as San Juan mayor against her former ally Vice Mayor Francis Zamora.
Meanwhile, former councilor Jana Ejercito, Jinggoy’s cousin, is running for the San Juan congressional district against reelectionist San Juan representative and minority floor leader Ronaldo Zamora (Francis’ father).
As to Estrada’s request to attend his daughter’s miting de avance at the Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan on May 7 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the court denied the request for lack of merit, saying it has denied Estrada’s earlier requests based on personal and family matters.
“As has been consistently emphasized by this Court, accused cannot be accorded the full enjoyment of civil and political rights as a necessary consequence of his detention. Incarceration, by its nature, changes an individual’s status in society,” the court said.
The court gave credence to the prosecution’s argument the court had been consistent in denying Estrada’s request for furlough to restrict the senator’s movement outside his detention cell.
The prosecution said the court had denied Estrada’s furlough to celebrate Christmas and New Year with his family in 2014, to attend his birthday Mass in Feb. 2015, and even to attend the wake of the “Master Showman” German Moreno in Jan. 2016.
“Surely, since the present motion is similar not only as to the objective but also to the effect of the motions for reprieve from jail… no plausible and cogent reason exists for this Honorable Court to depart from the ratio decidendi of its previous rulings,” the prosecution said.
Due to humanitarian considerations, the court also allowed Estrada to undergo MRI and X-ray at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center or the University of Santo Tomas Hospital to have his frozen shoulders checked.
Estrada is detained for plunder and graft for allegedly receiving P183 million kickbacks from accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. He is detained with co-accused Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Both of them had been denied bail by the Sandigabayan. RAM
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.