Jinggoy surrenders, joins Bong in Crame

Posted at 06/23/14 4:57 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Sen. Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada became a cellmate of Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. after the Sandiganbayan ordered him detained in the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

Estrada, 51, gave himself up to police after the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court said it found probable cause to proceed with plunder and graft charges against him and issued an arrest warrant.

"I never stole a single centavo from government coffers," a defiant Estrada told reporters, as he accused President Benigno Aquino of playing politics and cracking down on his opponents.

"At the end of the day, I will prove my innocence," he said. "I will face all charges against me in court."

Estrada is the second high-profile official arrested within days over a massive corruption scandal.

Flanked by his father Joseph Estrada, the senator boarded a white van trailed by a long line of media vehicles for a short drive to the police headquarters, where he turned himself in.

Estrada is among 54 people indicted for an alleged scam in which lawmakers, their staff, and other officials are accused of embezzling millions of dollars alloted for development projects.

In particular, Estrada is accused of pocketing 183 million pesos (about $3.4 million) in "pork barrel" funds that were allegedly diverted to ghost projects.

He has been charged with one count of plunder and 11 lesser counts of graft.

The senator has denied the charges, saying that politics is behind the filing of plunder and graft charges against him, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Revilla.

He also said he did not know that he was endorsing his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to fake NGOs.

Another senator, Bong Revilla, surrendered Friday on similar charges and is also detained at the PNP Custodial Center.

The courts are expected to soon issue an arrest order for a third senator, Juan Ponce Enrile, a 90-year-old veteran politician who was once dictator Ferdinand Marcos's chief martial law enforcer.


In an ANC interview, lawyer Jose Flaminiano said the senator did not wait for the Sandiganbayan to serve the arrest warrant but opted to surrender instead to his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

"We need not wait for the warrant of arrest to be served. Senator Jinggoy surrendered voluntarily to the mayor of Manila who is a person of authority," he told ANC.

Flaminiano said they had already confirmed with the anti-graft court about the issuance of the arrest warrant. He said the Estrada camp will file a motion for bail, with the option to file a motion for house arrest.

It is the second time that Estrada has been ordered arrested for the crime of plunder. The senator was jailed in 2001 after being charged with plunder under the Arroyo administration.

He was acquitted in 2007.

In a separate ANC interview, Estrada admitted he has grown tired of being depicted as a criminal even though the courts have yet to prove his guilt.

He said it is particularly difficult for him to explain his situation to his youngest daughter.

He also shared that his children, anticipating his possible arrest, prepared a surprise for him and his wife for their silver wedding anniversary.

''Our children surprised us with a very simple wedding ceremony in the house of my dad yesterday in anticipation of our silver wedding anniversary this Saturday,'' he said.


The pork barrel scam case erupted last year when businesswoman Janet Napoles was accused of colluding with lawmakers to embezzle an estimated 10 billion pesos ($230 million) from legislator's "pork barrel" funds, or money for their pet projects.

Napoles initially denied any wrongdoing, then in a failed effort to turn state witness gave prosecutors a list implicating more than 100 lawmakers. She has also been charged with plunder.

Two of those on the list are now Aquino cabinet members, although they deny the charges and say Napoles is trying to spread false information to deflect blame from herself and the other key players.

Corruption has long been a problem in the Philippines' brand of free-wheeling democracy, and accounts for much of the massive poverty in the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million.

The elder Estrada himself was ousted from the presidency midway through his six-year term in 2001 for massive corruption and incompetence.

He was later convicted, but was subsequently pardoned. Last year, he was elected as mayor of the capital Manila, in what he said was a vindication, proving his innocence. With a report from Agence France-Presse