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OVERSEAS TRIP

Sandiganbayan OKs Jinggoy Estrada’s HK vacation

/ 07:07 AM December 12, 2017

The Sandiganbayan has allowed former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to go on a family vacation in Hong Kong — his second overseas trip less than four months after regaining liberty.

In an open court hearing on Monday, the antigraft court’s Fifth Division granted his motion to spend time away from the country from Dec. 26 to 31.

As Estrada put it: “It’s just a four-day trip … It’s only Hong Kong, the nearest [destination from the Philippines].”

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He said he was “very, very thankful and grateful to the members of the court for granting my Christmas vacation,” noting that it would be his first time to take his family abroad since June 2014, when he was detained following the filing of the P183.8-million plunder case against him.

After three years in detention, Estrada went free last Sept. 16, a day after the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division ruled the Ombudsman’s evidence in the pork barrel scam case was not strong enough to deny him bail.

Precedent

The court cited the precedent set by the Supreme Court in its July 2016 acquittal of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. That ruling imposed on prosecutors an additional requirement to pinpoint a “main plunderer” to produce a conviction for plunder.

Estrada first left the country from Nov. 11 to 20 to accompany his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, in Singapore for a medical procedure on his lower back.

The actor-politician told reporters on Monday that fellow former Sen. Bong Revilla was “feeling quite depressed” after the Sandiganbayan First Division denied him permission to file a demurrer on his separate P224.5-million plunder case.

The denial of a motion for leave to file a demurrer meant Revilla could only challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence at the risk of losing his right to present evidence in his defense.

Estrada said he visited Revilla “almost every day, twice or thrice a week” in the detention facility which they formerly shared at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

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The two were among the many legislators accused of diverting their Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations to bogus nongovernment organizations.

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TAGS: graft case, Jinggoy Estrada, Joseph Estrada, pork barrel scam, Sandiganbayan
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