• Estrada released from detention

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    Former Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada was released from the Philippine National Police custodial center where he was detained for three years on plunder charges after paying P1.3 million bail in cash.

    “I’m very, very happy, I’m very elated. I would like to thank the Lord God for giving me this opportunity. I would like to thank the magistrates of the Sandiganbayan for granting my petition for bail,” Estrada, who was accompanied by his wife Precy and four children, told reporters in an interview.

    “I would like to thank all my family and supporters for their non-ending prayers for me,” he added. “I deny all the allegations against me. Wala po akong ninakaw sa taumbayan (I deny all the allegations against me. I did not steal anything from the people).”

    His lawyer, Alexis Abastillas-Suarez, said a thanksgiving mass will be held at 3 p.m. in San Juan City, where Estrada was mayor for nine years.

    Estrada is facing plunder and graft charges for allegedly receiving P183 million in kickbacks in exchange for pouring his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel on non-government organizations owned or controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles whose projects turned out to be non-existent.

    Estrada filed an omnibus motion last year asking the court to dismiss the plunder case and/or grant him bail.

    Voting 3-2 in a ruling promulgated on September 15, the court allowed him to post bail but denied his plea for case dismissal.

    The trial of the plunder case starts on Monday. REINA TOLENTINO

    RT/CC

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