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Jinggoy free on P1.33-M bail

By CZARINA NICOLE ONG

Three years after being detained for plunder and graft charges, former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada yesterday walked out of jail and went home to his family.

“Hahalikan ko lagi asawa ko,” jested the former movie actor who, through his lawyer, posted a bail of P1.33 million for his provisional liberty.

“I’m a free man already, but I would still religiously attend the hearings of my plunder case,” said Estrada.

The son of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada maintained his innocence of the charges filed against him.

“I deny all the allegations against me, wala po ako ninakaw,” he said.

Despite charged with a non-bailable offense, the Sandiganbayan fifth division, voting 3-2, allowed Estrada to post bail because he is not the “main plunderer” in the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

“Although there is evidence to show that there were glaring irregularities in the disbursement of accused Estrada’s PDAF allocations and that he received a sum of money from his participation in these irregularities, there is no strong evidence to show that he is a main plunderer within the contemplation of the plunder law,” the resolution reads.

The court said that the evidence on record does not really show which person was intended to be enriched or benefitted, so there is “confusion” as to who is the main beneficiary of the entire scam.

The prosecution has established that Napoles is the “catalyst” in the scheme, and she was the one who established its network and is therefore considered the “epicenter.”

“There is also evidence detailing the participation of accused Napoles, whose control over the scheme appears to be extensive,” the resolution adds.

Estrada actually sought to have his case dismissed, arguing that there is insufficiency of evidence against him.

But the court ruled otherwise, saying there was no defect in his charge sheets that would warrant a dismissal of his case.

Thus, Estrada’s plunder trial will still push through on Monday and every other Monday after that.

Estrada appeared before the Sandiganbayan to complete the final procedure of his bail process, and submitted himself to finger-printing and signing of documents before he was reunited with his family who joined him at Pinaglabanan Church in San Juan City.

Estrada was accompanied by his wife Precy and children, San Juan Vice Mayor Janella, Julian Emilio, Joseph Luis Manuel, and Julienne. His brother Jude was also present.

The former senator said he felt sad to leave long-time friend and former colleague Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who is still detained for his alleged involvement in the same PDAF scam.

He said he is “praying hard” that Revilla will also be granted bail soon.

“Sabi ko lakasan niya loob niya, at balang araw at makakamit din niya ang kalayaan niya,” he said.

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