Detained senator decries ‘suspicious’ CHR visit

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FORMER senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada blasted members of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) who recently visited him and fellow ex-senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to supposedly check on their condition.

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Estrada and Revilla are detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City, in connection with their alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Estrada said around eight members of the CHR visited their detention cell last week and he added that he was not happy about it since he suspects that the visit had ulterior motives.

He said his suspicion was strengthened after learning that some of the CHR members who visited him and Revilla were appointees of Sen. Leila de Lima, who also served as CHR chairman during the time of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

De Lima is also now detained at the PNP Custodial Center on drug-related charges.

Estrada said he confronted the CHR members and asked them what they want and he was told that they were there to visit them and conduct an inspection.

The former senator said he was displeased by the response of the CHR personnel considering that they have been detained for almost three years and the CHR has not paid them a visit.

He noted that when De Lima was ordered arrested and detained, the CHR immediately paid her a visit and even informed the media about it.

“Where were you when during our first months of detention? Did you bother to find out our situation and how the guards treated us?” Estrada told the CHR visitors.

“Let’s face reality. The reason why you are here [is]de Lima. Maybe she instructed you guys to pay us a visit and to compare our living conditions,” he said.

Estrada added that he discouraged the CHR members from visiting them again because they would get the same tongue-lashing and dressing down from him.

Estrada and de Lima are detained in separate areas where they would not see each other.

It was de Lima who charged Estrada, Revilla and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile with plunder and other graft-related cases before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the PDAF controversy.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee on Sunday expressed willingness to reinvestigate the multi-million peso scam if new evidence will be presented.

Senator Richard Gordon said the new probe possibly would cover non-government organizations and personnel not connected with businesswomen Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scam.

“As long as there’s new evidence that will be presented, I am willing to investigate, but we will make sure that we don’t waste our time,” he added.

 JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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