Free Again

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Jinggoy leaves jail after paying P1.3M bail

Former senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada on Saturday left the Philippine National Police custodial center a free man after posting bail of P1.3 million for charges of plunder and graft.

The charges were based on allegations he pocketed P183 million in kickbacks given by former businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

REUNITED Former senator Loi Estrada hugs her son Jinggoy as former president Joseph Estrada looks on. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

Estrada was the second former lawmaker given temporary liberty. In August 2015, former senator Juan Ponce Enrile was released after posting P1.4 million bail. Estrada, Enrile and former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla were accused of receiving huge kickbacks from the alleged misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, an allocation given to senators that they can use for their pet projects.

Estrada showed up at the Sandiganbayan hours after his lawyers paid his P1.3 million bail in cash.

“I am thankful to God, to the Sandiganbayan, and to all people who prayed for me,” he told a swarm of reporters.

Estrada’s wife Percy and his brother Jude went to Camp Crame, the headquarters of the PNP, hours before the release order was served.

Several fans of Estrada, a former actor, showed up outside the custodial center where he was detained for almost four years. Some were holding shirts with his name and crying.

The Sandiganbayan’s Special Fifth Division voted 3-2 to allow the former senator to post bail.

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

“I would like to thank my family and supporters for their non-ending prayers for me,” he added.

The former senator again denied any wrongdoing. “I deny all the allegations against me. I did not steal anything from the people,” he said.

After leaving the court, Estrada shared a meal with his family in San Juan City. He was joined by his father, former president Joseph Estrada and mother Luisa, a former senator.

HAPPY MEAL Former senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada enjoys his first meal as a free man surrounded by members of his family at a restaurant in San Juan City, his first stop after being released from detention. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

Lawyer Alexis Abastillas Suarez said a thanksgiving mass was held at 3 p.m. at the Pinaglabanan Church in San Juan City for Estrada.

Plunder, graft

Estrada is facing a plunder complaint for allegedly pouring his pork barrel into non-government organizations owned or controlled by Napoles in exchange for kickbacks. The Office of the Ombudsman said the projects implemented by these organizations were non-existent.

Estrada is also facing 11 counts of graft. For each count of graft, he paid a P30,000 bail for a total of P330,000. He paid P1 million bail for the plunder charge.

Last year, Estrada filed an omnibus motion asking the anti-court to, among others, dismiss the plunder case and/or grant him bail in light of the Supreme Court decision that dismissed for lack of evidence the plunder case filed against former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo in connection with the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds.

The former senator claimed that his health deteriorated during his detention.
But Estrada will be back in court on Monday, the start of his plunder trial.

with RJ CARBONELL

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