Estrada released on bail after spending 3 years in prison for plunder
AFTER spending more than three years behind bars for plunder and graft, former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada has been granted release on bail.
The Special 5th Division has decided to allow Estrada to be released on a P1.33 million bail after it found that “the evidence has not strongly established accused Estrada as the main plunderer.”
Estrada was released from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, around 12:30 p.m.
From his detention cell, the former senator was transported to the Sandiganbayan to face the court for the application of his bail.
Estrada is expected to return home with his family in Quezon City after his official rel ease.
Estrada, in an interview, said he was “very elated” that he was now a “free man” after the anti-graft court approved his petition to post bail.
“I can’t express my feelings right now but certainly, I’m very, very happy. I’m very elated. I would like to thank our Lord God for giving me this opportunity. I would like to thank the magistrates of the Sandiganbayan for approving my petition for bail. And I would like to thank all my family and my supporters for their nonending prayers for me,” he said.
“I’m a free man already but I will always religiously attend the hearing of my plunder case,” he added.
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has voted 3-2 to grant Estrada’s plea to post bail for his temporary liberty.
Associate Justices Maria Theresa MendozaArcega, Reynaldo Cruz, and Lorifel Pahimna voted in Estrada’s favor, while Associate Justices Rafael Lagos and Zaldy Trespeses dissented.
The court has set the bail at P1 million for charges if plunder and P330,000 for 11 counts of graft charges.
Associate Justice Edgardo Caldona signed a release order immediately after the payment of cash bail bonds, declaring that all cases are “lifted and declared of no further force and effect insofar as accused Jose Jinggoy P. Estrada is concerned.”
Estrada was accused of pocketing P183.793 million in kickbacks from dubious projects implemented by the dubious non-government organizations of purported pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napol es.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed plunder and graft charges against Estrada in June 2014, a ground for the Sandiganbayan to order his arrest a month after the filing of cases.
The court denied Estrada’s first bail petition in January 2016 citing “strong evidence” against the former lawmaker.
He lodged the second plea to post bail in September 2016, following the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte said Estrada and former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. should be granted bail if the evidence against them is weak.
Estrada is among the three former senators allegedly involved in multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, along with Revilla and former senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
Enrile was freed on bail in 2015 while Revilla remains in detention while his case is on trial. (Ruth Abbey Gita/ SunStar Philippines)