SENATOR Jinggoy Estrada does not intend to take a leave from the Senate in the face of the recommendation of the Office of the Ombudsman to charge him with plunder in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
Estrada, who is still in the US, insisted that there is no reason for him to go on leave and maintained that he did not commit any wrongdoing that would require him to abandon his job as a lawmaker.
“Why would I take a leave of absence? My conscience is clean. I didn’t committed any wrongdoing. I didn’t steal anything from the people,” Estrada said in television interview Thursday.
There were calls for Estrada and senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr. to go on leave after the Office of the Ombudsman announced it found probable cause to indict the lawmakers on plunder and graft-related charges for involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) controversy.
The Ombudsman also recommended charges against businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles the supposed pork barrel scam mastermind, other government officials and former members of the House of Representatives.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which conducted a separate probe on the PDAF scam, also recommended the filing of charges against the three senators, and their staffs who also played a role in the controversy.
But Estrada insisted that series on events that happened in relation with the pork barrel scam is part of the plan to destroy the opposition.
He said it is obvious that there is an effort to limit issues to the three of them who are identified with the opposition.
Estrada also questioned Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s supposed failure to file graft complaints against the third batch of individuals that were implicated in either in the PDAF or the Malampaya fund scam.
“Ombudsman (Conchita Carpio)Morales earlier said that it would take a year or so to review all the voluminous documents, but it only took the Ombudsman six months to come up with its recommendation and even timed the release with the Senate blue ribbon committee report on the pork barrel issue. So there is really a plan,” Estrada said.
He and other senators have until Monday to file motions for reconsideration on the Ombudsman resolution.
The Ombudsman got 60 days to act on the motions of the senators and other respondents. If the Ombudsman denies the motions, it will proceed with filing the complaint before the Sandiganabayan.
The senators still can go to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court and seek a temporary restraining order.
Once denied, the Sandiganbayan can proceed with raffling the case to a division that will serve the warrant of arrest on the senators and other accused.
“It will be up to the Sandiganbayan. We will follow the orders of the court,” Estrada said when asked what he will do once the case is filed at the anti-graft court.
In a separate interview, Revilla insisted that the sustained effort to pin him and other senators to the PDAF controversy is politically motivated and that he would leave his fate to God.
He also said he is ready to face the charges, insisting that the accusations against him are lies.
“I’m prepared for anything they want to do to me, all I can say is that I have done no wrong and nor have the capability of committing such illegal acts. To the people who are doing this to me, I will leave it to God,” Revilla said in an separate radio interview.
Enrile has remained quiet on the issue.