The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division has thumbed down Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada’s request for a furlough tomorrow (Saturday), All Saints’ Day.
Estrada is facing a P183-million plunder charge in connection with the pork barrel scam.
“The motion is not well-taken. Being a detention prisoner, just like all other detention prisoners, accused-movant cannot be allowed the full enjoyment of his rights be [they]civil or political,” the court said in a two-page resolution issued on Thursday.
It pointed out that restraint in some of Estrada’s rights does not run against the constitutional presumption of his innocence.
“We rule that to allow the accused-movant to leave his detention cell will not only set a bad precedent, but will likewise be regarded as a mockery of the administration of justice,” the Fifth Division said.
“Moreover, allowing the accused to leave his detention cell on the requested period will entail additional and considerable government expenses to safeguard his security and safety,” it added.
The resolution was signed by Fifth Division Chairman Roland Jurado and fellow Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta.
Earlier, Estrada asked for a five-hour pass from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. to leave detention under escort of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center personnel and visit the San Juan City Cemetery and Heritage Park in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City (Metro Manila).
The senator hoped to visit his grandmother Mary and grandfather Emilio, father-in-law Reynaldo Vitug, uncles George and Paulino (his father’s siblings) and sister Jessica, as well as his best friend, the late actor Rudy Fernandez who succumbed to cancer in 2008.
Prosecutors opposed this, arguing that granting his request would unduly create public impression that Estrada, being a high-ranking public official, is a favored detainee and “will invariably open the floodgates for all other detainees in arguing that they too should be afforded the same privilege accorded accused Estrada.”
“Such a precedent indeed! What would now preclude all detention prisoners from claiming that they should be given furlough during Christmas, New Year and even Valentine’s Day?” they said.
Estrada is one of three senators facing charges before the Sandi-ganbayan in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who was leveled a P224-million plunder charge, is also detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame while Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who faces a P172-million plunder charge, has been staying at the PNP General Hospital.