Estrada argues with Cayetano

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

By Kathrina Alvarez

THE privilege speech of Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Wednesday afternoon ended up in a heated argument with Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano after Estrada accused his colleague of engaging in trial by publicity.

The argument began when Estrada mentioned Cayetano's proposal to create a special court or division to handle the cases related to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, which tagged Estrada and Senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile as beneficiaries.

"He must be so desperate to make sure we are convicted by handpicked justices on the testimony of perjured and coached witnesses. That senator, Mr. President, just announced his bid for the presidency in 2016. This is a glaring proof and an undeniable confirmation that he is just using this PDAF controversy to advance his own political agenda," Estrada said.

Estrada noted how impossible Cayetano's proposal is considering that a special division of the Sandiganbayan took six and a half years to try the plunder case against his father, former President Joseph Estrada.

After the one-hour speech of Estrada, Cayetano stood up to reply to Estrada's statements. "Obviously, he was referring to me," Cayetano said.

Cayetano, a member of the Nacionalista Party, had expressed intentions to run for president in the 2016 national elections.

"This is not about Senator Jinggoy. This is not about Alan Cayetano. This is not about 2016. This is about the people's money. 'Yun pong institusyon natin ang nadudurog...What do you want me to do? You want me to be quiet and not say anything about it? We're having a double standard here," the Majority Leader said.

The argument went on for almost an hour more.

Cayetano said Estrada was free to answer all the accusations against him by the resource persons in the Blue Ribbon committee but he opted not to.

Estrada chose to answer the allegations against him by whistleblowers and potential state witnesses in relation to the pork barrel scam through privilege speeches in the Senate plenary. He said his lawyers advised him not to attend the Blue Ribbon hearings.

In one occasion, Estrada recalled, Cayetano approached him after a caucus and said that he feels "very bad" because "you've been very good to me from the very start."

"When I became a senator, I wanted to keep a good relationship with everyone, even those who betrayed my father. Pero masyado nang personal ito," he said.

"Precisely, it's not personal. Sabi mo nilapitan kita, pare masakit din sakin yung nangyari kasi magkasama tayo. Kinumpare mo pa kapatid ko but I have a role to play," Cayetano told Estrada.

Estrada also clarified that he is not asking for Cayetano's help.

"Hindi ko sinasabi ipagtanggol mo ako. Hindi ako humihingi ng tulong. Never ako humingi ng tulong kahit sa sarili kong kapatid. Kahit sino dito, wala akong hiningian ng tulong dahil alam ko malinis ang aking konsensya," Estrada said adding that he also didn't ask for the president's help even if he is a "good friend."

"You are taking it against me that in the hearings, I participated; na sa media nagsasalita ako, isn't that asking for help? If you're not asking for help, why are you taking it against us for doing our job?" Cayetano said.

The two senators eventually shook hands after the word war. (Sunnex)

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