Estrada surrenders on ‘pork’ plunder, graft charges-A A +A
Monday, June 23, 2014
MANILA (5th Update) -- Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada on Monday surrendered to his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, after the Sandiganbayan fifth division issued a warrant of arrest against him for plunder and graft cases in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
"The senator surrendered to Mayor Estrada. He [Manila mayor] is a person in authority," Jose Flaminiano, Estrada's legal counsel, said in television interview, as he explained the visit of the beleaguered senator at his father's house in San Juan City.
Senator Estrada left his residence at Corinthian Hills in Quezon City shortly after the issuance of warrant of arrest.
The fifth division signed the arrest warrant at 11:30 a.m.
Associate Justices Roland Jurado, Alexander Gesmundo and Alex Quiroz signed the arrest order.
Estrada's co-accused in the plunder case were: Pauline Therese Mary Labayen, John Raymund de Asis and alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
Meanwhile, the senator's co-accused in the graft cases were: Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos, Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, Antonio Ortiz, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Sophia Daing Cruz, Gondelina Amata, Gregoria Buenaventura, Chita Jalandoni, Alan Javellana, Maria Ninez Guanizo, Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, and Marilou Bare.
The fifth division earlier found probable cause on the plunder and graft cases filed against Estrada and ordered for his and his co-accused's arrest in cases related to the PDAF anomaly.
"The Court finds that sufficient grounds exist for the finding of probable cause for the purpose of issuing warrants of arrest against the accused," the resolution read.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was not surprised by the development.
"Inaasahan naman natin yan. Hindi naman namin 'yan isasangguni sa Ombudsman kung hindi malakas ang batayan," she said.
Senator Estrada, however, said, "In due time. The truth will set me free," as he vowed to fight his case in court.
After an emotional visit to his father, Estrada went to Camp Crame, Quezon City past 12 noon accompanied by his Mayor Estrada along with other members of the Ejercito Estrada family, including his wife Precy and children.
The senator said, "This is a sad day for him and his family."
Mayor Estrada personally submitted his son to the custody of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director Benjamin Magalong before the senator underwent a mandatory booking procedure at the Philippine National Police (PNP) multi-purpose hall.
"Anuman ang pinagdadaanan ko ngayon, at least hindi ako iniwan kailan man ng tatay ko at ng aking pamilya," the senator said.
Senator Estrada admitted his family is "very much affected", especially his eight-year-old daughter who refused to accept that his father is going to jail for the second time.
Estrada said he is ready to testify and be grilled on the allegations of his alleged misuse of his PDAF before the Sandiganbayan.
The embattled senator said his legal team lead by Flaminiano is prepared for their legal strategy.
Flamiano confirmed that they already forwarded the petition for bail, which will be heard this coming Friday, June 27, 2014.
Authorities did not bring Estrada to the Sandiganbayan for the return of the arrest warrant but instead he waited in Camp Crame for the release of the commitment order coming from the court. Personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) tightly guarded him.
"Hindi na isasama si Senator Estrada sa Sandiganbayan. Hihintayin nalang dito sa Camp Crame ang kanyang commitment order," said PNP Public Information Office chief Reuben Theodore Sindac.
Estrada is facing plunder, a non-bailable offense, and 11 counts of graft for allegedly amassing P183 million in kickbacks from 2004 to 2012 from the alleged illegal disbursement of his PDAF allocations.
Vice presidential bid
Amid the legal battle over plunder charges, Estrada admitted that he had not abandoned his vice presidential ambitions in 2016.
"I was perceived to be running for higher office before and there's no change in (my) plans so far," he said.
Yet, Estrada, who is rumored to be a possible running mate of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016, said he will have to talk this matter with the country's second highest official.
Given the fact that Estrada will be dealing with the issue of alleged plunder for the second time since 2001, the senator said he has no regrets for entering politics and following in the footsteps of his father.
Senator Estrada was previously detained for a plunder case filed against him and the ousted President by the Arroyo administration in 2001. The senator was later on acquitted and freed.
The senator said his wife will have to be both mother and father to their four children.
"Masakit dahil iiwan ko na naman ang pamilya ko lalo na ang bunso ko," he told reporters.
Estrada said he already dedicated his life for almost three decades to public service.
"And I do not have any regrets. And, if I will be acquitted in the case filed against me, I will still continue to serve the people to their best interest," he said.
Estrada who is the second senator to be detained in connection with the PDAF scam said it is a given fact that politics is "a very dirty game."
"But there is no way that I will give up the fight. If this the price that I have to pay, so be it," he said.
"I am happy helping the Filipino people and it will never change. I will never give that up. To all who have been attacking me, who have been criticizing me, I don't mind because the truth will come out at the right time," he added.
He remained firm in his position that he committed no wrongdoing in endorsing some of the alleged bogus NGOs as beneficiaries of his PDAF allocations.
"I was made to believe that they were legitimate NGOs. Who is the senator who is stupid enough to endorse his pork barrel to bogus NGOs? I will be the first one to denounce it. I do not endorse the bogus NGOs. That is the job of the implementing agencies (IAs). Why blame us?" he asked.
"It's the job of the implementing agencies to determine if the NGOs are bogus or legitimate. I trusted the implementing agencies to do this, to do their mandated job and truly certify that the NGOs are legitimate that they accredit. We are there to determine which NGOs will be taking over. Our job as legislators is purely recommendatory. The least that they should have done is to inform the senators that the NGOs are bogus," he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Estrada and his co-accused Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile are constantly calling each other.
Enrile said he will issue no comment but maintained that the case filed against him is weak as he expressed readiness to defend himself at the right time.
Enrile remained composed even amid speculations of their impending arrests anytime soon as he can still manage to crack a joke even at his expense and continue to be a strong support system to both Estrada and Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., telling them not to worry too much.
Revilla is now detained at the PNP custodial center in Camp Crame after he surrendered to the court last Friday on plunder and graft charges.
The minority leader who is now in his 90s claims that his blood pressure remains normal although he admitted that he has been taking some maintenance medicines.
Both Revilla and Estrada admitted to be already suffering from "mental torture" over the possibility of their arrest, not knowing when it will actually take place, which is a different case with Enrile.
"What is mental torture? Me, I have not read anything and I have just played with my iPad," he said.
The court has yet to decide on the motion for determination of probable cause Enrile filed before the Sandiganbayan third division.
Enrile also expressed confidence that the government's case against him will not stand.
"It's but natural that we will be detained (given that the case filed is non-bailable). But we cannot tell (what will happen). I will just bring with me my books (in detention as reading materials) like the book on History of Political Theory. The book about Mandela and a book of poems. Even when I suffer from reading, I use a magnifying glass to read," he said.
The office of Senator Enrile and Revilla is business as usual compared to Senator Estrada who's office has been closed on Monday. (ABC/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Third Anne Peralta/Virgil Lopez/Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)