Jinggoy Estrada confident of bail from plunder like in 2003
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Thursday said he was confident he would be granted bail from his plunder suit over the pork barrel scam, the same way he was cleared of the charges as a coaccused of his father over alleged illegal gambling funds.
In an interview after his bail hearing at the Sandiganbayan on Thursday, the senator expressed confidence that the decision of the fifth division hearing his case would be a “repeat” of the antigraft court’s order granting him bail in the plunder case of deposed President Joseph Estrada over “jueteng” money.
Noting that he was granted bail in the 2001 plunder case because he was not a flight risk, the younger Estrada said he should be allowed the same privilege now because he had affirmed before the court that as an incumbent senator, he would not flee his charges.
“When I was charged for plunder in 2001 together with my father, we also surrendered voluntarily. Hindi ako tumakas. We faced the charges in court. Ganoon din ngayon. Wala pa nga ang warrant of arrest na in-issue sa akin ang Sandiganbayan, nag-surrender ako kaagad sa Camp Crame just to show that I will face the charges leveled against us,” Estrada said.
“(In 2003), I was granted bail because there was no strong evidence presented against me. I think this is another repeat performance. Wala naman sila talagang ebidensya. All hearsay,” he added.
The father and son tandem was jailed in 2001 for the plunder charges, which propelled the aborted impeachment trial of former President Estrada.
In 2001, the younger Estrada, then San Juan mayor, was charged with conspiring with his father “in amassing and acquiring ill-gotten wealth through illegal gambling or any or a combination or a series of overt or criminal acts or similar schemes or means.”
In March 2003, two years after their detention, the former mayor was allowed bail as the Sandiganbayan found that he probably collected jueteng protection money only for his “own selfish needs” and not in “conspiracy” with his father.
In 2007, the older Estrada was convicted of plunder, but then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo granted him pardon barely two months later. His son, meanwhile, was acquitted.
After more than a year of hearing, the Sandiganbayan fifth division on Thursday concluded the oral summation of evidence in the senator’s bail hearing, this time over the pork barrel scam. He had been detained since June 2014 and seeking bail after surrendering to the police.
The court ordered both parties to submit memoranda summarizing the testimony and evidence within 10 days before submitting the plea for resolution.
Senator Estrada hoped he would be granted bail in time for Christmas, claiming the prosecution failed to prove he received P183 million in kickbacks from accused scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
“It’s been approximately one year and six months that I’ve been incarcerated. I just hope and pray that the court the Sandiganbayan will specifically grant my motion,” he said.
He is accused of receiving P183 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) through alleged ghost projects using the bogus foundations of Napoles.
The senator is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center with colleague Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., who is facing the same charges for allegedly accumulating P242 million in kickbacks from Napoles.
Revilla’s bail plea was denied by the Sandiganbayan in December 2014, just months after he surrendered in June 2014.
Meanwhile, the 91-year-old Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who is accused of receiving P172 million kickbacks, has been granted bail by the Supreme Court based on humanitarian grounds and his political stature. RC
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