Jinggoy Estrada leaves for US
MANILA (UPDATED) -- Senator Jinggoy Estrada left the country for the United States on Saturday morning.
The senator left around 11 a.m. on a Hong Kong flight en route to San Francisco, radio dzMM reported.
According to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Estrada and his wife, Precy, boarded Cathay Pacific flight CX-906.
Earlier this week, Estrada bared his plans to use the break in Congress to accompany his wife who will be seeking a second opinion after a lump was discovered in her breast.
Prior to his trip, he designated lawyer Estelito Mendoza to respond to the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to have his passport cancelled.
He had asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for a 20-day extension to respond to the request.
Aside from Estrada, the DOJ also sought the cancellation of the passports of senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., along with the 34 others named in the plunder complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam.
The DOJ, in its request to DFA, cited Republic Act 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 which provides that passports may be cancelled in the "interest of national security."
DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima had said "corruption poses a serious threat to national security and therefore can be a valid reason for the revocation of passport."
The respondents, for their part, accused de Lima of imposing "selective justice" and being publicity-hungry for seeking the cancellation of their passports.
Revilla said it is ironic that de Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), seems to be disregarding their rights in the pork barrel scam case.
Estrada also said it is premature for the DOJ to seek the cancellation of their passports since the case is still in the preliminary investigation phase before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Nonetheless, Estrada assured the public that he would not evade any charges filed against him in connection with the misuse of lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
Estrada vowed to return to the country before Congress resumes session on November 18. -- With reports from Ruby Tayag and Zhander Cayabyab, dzMM