Back in jail, Jinggoy Estrada gets used to life as inmate
MANILA, Philippines–Unlike “Pogi,” “Sexy” has been able to adapt quickly to his new life as a VIP jailbird.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, called “Sexy” by pork barrel scam whistle-blowers, spent his first morning in the high-security prison compound in Camp Crame on Tuesday sunning with his bosom buddy and fellow actor-lawmaker, Sen. Bong Revilla. The latter is referred to by the whistle-blowers as “Pogi.”
The two senators are held at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police after the Sandiganbayan ordered their arrest on plunder and graft charges in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Revilla has been detained at the facility since Friday after he surrendered to the antigraft court. Estrada was taken to the detention center on Monday.
Estrada is detained on plunder charges for the second time in 13 years. Along with his father, deposed President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, the senator was arrested in April 2001 for supposedly receiving “jueteng” payoffs.
Hot dogs, ‘tinola’
On Tuesday, Revilla and Estrada were given hot dogs and eggs for breakfast and tinolang manok for lunch, but the pair did not eat their food rations, according to the PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac.
“Senator Jinggoy has immediately adjusted to his situation. We have not received any complaint from him,” Sindac told reporters.
“The two senators saw each other in the common area of the Custodial Center. There’s also a common walkway where they can get a bit of sun,” he said.
Witnesses in the pork barrel racket had testified in the Senate that Revilla and Estrada’s dealings with suspected fund scam architect, detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, were recorded in notebooks using their code names “Pogi” and “Sexy,” respectively.
Another opposition senator, Juan Ponce Enrile, was allegedly identified as “Tanda” in Napoles’ records.
The antigraft court has yet to issue a warrant for Enrile’s arrest pending the finding of probable cause in the plunder and graft charges filed against them by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Sindac said Estrada went to bed at 1 a.m. Tuesday, spending his first night in jail talking with his lawyers.
The senator’s wife, Precy, and their children left the detention facility about 9 p.m. on Monday, he said.
Like Revilla, Estrada would be allowed to receive visitors from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday and Sunday, Sindac said.
“They are not allowed to see any visitor every Monday except for their lawyers, spiritual advisers and doctors. Fridays are set for conjugal visits,” he said.
But since it was only his first day at the detention facility, Estrada was allowed to see his mother, former Sen. Loi Estrada, and his wife on Tuesday afternoon, Sindac said.
Sindac said the senator also named his mother as his personal physician, meaning she can visit her son anytime.
“We also consider the fact that the family is still trying to adjust to the situation they are in right now,” he said.
How to survive jail
Sindac said Revilla and Estrada would be allowed to have an extra electric fan inside their respective 32-square-meter detention rooms, but their request for air coolers and other appliances would have to be approved by the Sandiganbayan.
Revilla is being held in the first of the four-room detention bungalow, while Estrada is occupying the adjacent room.
Revilla, an actor, got tips on how to survive life behind bars from the most unexpected source—his own jailer.
During what could be the longest 30-minute ride of his life, he was briefed by the chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) on what to expect in the Custodial Center.
Director Benjamin Magalong of the CIDG shared with Revilla his experiences as a detainee in the same facility when he fetched the senator from the Sandiganbayan where he turned himself in to court officials on Friday.
“I told him he would grow spiritually while in detention because he would have more time to reflect on his life,” Magalong told the Inquirer in an interview.
“He would also have time to read the Bible and speak to Him in his prayers. That’s how I spent my time inside the Custodial Center,” he added.
He also advised Revilla to make use of his time to exercise to keep himself physically fit.
Then the chief directorial staff of the elite PNP Special Action Force, Magalong was charged along with other ranking military and police officials with allegedly plotting to overthrow then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Feb. 24, 2006.
He yielded to his superiors and spent three months in the high-security prison compound on rebellion charges.
He was eventually released after the case against him was dismissed for lack of evidence.
During their short travel to Camp Crame, Magalong said Revilla repeatedly asked if his wife, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado, and their children would be allowed to visit him anytime.
He said the senator also asked about the policies at the Custodial Center, particularly on the use of electric appliances.
During the entire trip, the CIDG chief said Revilla was just staring blankly at the vehicle’s window “as if trying to comprehend the situation he was in.”
“Senator Revilla said he had already prepared himself. But he was worried about his family. You can see in his eyes the sadness and the anxiety he was feeling that time,” he said.
“I actually told him that I decided not to let my wife and children visit me because I know it would be difficult for them to see my condition. My children were still very young then,” Magalong said.