Jing­goy walks free on bail bond

Tempo - - Front Page - By CZARINA NI­COLE ONG

Three years af­ter be­ing de­tained for plun­der and graft charges, for­mer Sen­a­tor Jose “Jing­goy” Estrada yes­ter­day walked out of jail and went home to his fam­ily.

Three years af­ter be­ing de­tained for plun­der and graft charges, for­mer Sen­a­tor Jose “Jing­goy” Estrada yes­ter­day walked out of jail and went home to his fam­ily.

“Hahalikan ko lagi asawa ko,” jested the for­mer movie ac­tor who, through his lawyer, posted a bail of ₱1.33 mil­lion for his pro­vi­sional lib­erty.

“I’m a free man al­ready, but I would still re­li­giously at­tend the hear­ings of my plun­der case,” said Estrada.

The son of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada main­tained his in­no­cence of the charges filed against him.

“I deny all the al­le­ga­tions against me, wala po ako ni­nakaw,” he said.

De­spite charged with a non-bail­able of­fense, the Sandi­gan­bayan fifth divi­sion, vot­ing 3-2, al­lowed Estrada to post bail be­cause he is not the “main plun­derer” in the con­tro­ver­sial Pri­or­ity De­vel­op­ment As­sis­tance Fund (PDAF) scam.

“Al­though there is ev­i­dence to show that there were glar­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the dis­burse­ment of ac­cused Estrada’s PDAF al­lo­ca­tions and that he re­ceived a sum of money from his par­tic­i­pa­tion in these ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, there is no strong ev­i­dence to show that he is a main plun­derer within the con­tem­pla­tion of the plun­der law,” the res­o­lu­tion reads.

The court said that the ev­i­dence on record does not re­ally show which per­son was in­tended to be en­riched or ben­e­fit­ted, so there is “con­fu­sion” as to who is the main ben­e­fi­ciary of the en­tire scam.

The prose­cu­tion has es­tab­lished that Napoles is the “cat­a­lyst” in the scheme, and she was the one who es­tab­lished its net­work and is there­fore con­sid­ered the “epi­cen­ter.”

“There is also ev­i­dence de­tail­ing the par­tic­i­pa­tion of ac­cused Napoles, whose con­trol over the scheme ap­pears to be ex­ten­sive,” the res­o­lu­tion adds.

Estrada ac­tu­ally sought to have his case dis­missed, ar­gu­ing that there is in­suf­fi­ciency of ev­i­dence against him.

But the court ruled oth­er­wise, say­ing there was no de­fect in his charge sheets that would war­rant a dis­missal of his case.

Thus, Estrada’s plun­der trial will still push through on Mon­day and ev­ery other Mon­day af­ter that.

Estrada ap­peared be­fore the Sandi­gan­bayan to com­plete the fi­nal pro­ce­dure of his bail process, and sub­mit­ted him­self to fin­ger­print­ing and sign­ing of doc­u­ments be­fore he was re­united with his fam­ily who joined him at Pi­nagla­banan Church in San Juan City.

Estrada was ac­com­pa­nied by his wife Precy and chil­dren, San Juan Vice Mayor Janella, Ju­lian Emilio, Joseph Luis Manuel, and Juli­enne. His brother Jude was also present.

The for­mer sen­a­tor said he felt sad to leave long-time friend and for­mer col­league Ra­mon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who is still de­tained for his al­leged in­volve­ment in the same PDAF scam.

He said he is “pray­ing hard” that Revilla will also be granted bail soon.

“Sabi ko lakasan niya loob niya, at balang araw at makakamit din niya ang kalayaan niya,” he said.

(Jansen Romero)

FOR­MER Sen­a­tor Jing­goy Estrada waves to his sup­port­ers and mem­bers of the press af­ter go­ing out of PNP Cus­to­dial Cen­ter yes­ter­day. Estrada is out on a ₱1.33-mil­lion bail.

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