Crame or regular jail? Jinggoy ready for both
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Jinggoy Estrada says he’s ready to be taken to any jail the anti-graft court will commit him to.
“Do I have a choice?” quipped Estrada during an interview on DZMM Monday, January 16.
“Pwede kaming i-commit, halimbawa, sa Quezon City Jail o Manila City Jail. Wala akong magagawa,” he added. (We can be committed to the Quezon City Jail or Manila City Jail. I would not have a choice.)
Estrada, along with senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr, is accused of pocketing millions of pesos in Priority Development Assistance Funds or pork barrel through fake projects of favored bogus non-governmental organizations.
Earlier on Monday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) gave media a guided tour of a newly-renovated portion of its Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
This part of the complex, which was supposed to be the quarters of headquarters support service personnel assigned to the Custodial Center, will now be used to house the 3 senators should the court order it. (IN PHOTOS: Senators' detention center in Camp Crame)
Anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has yet to issue a warrant of arrest against the 3 senators and 51 others charged with plunder and graft. On Monday, however, the Sandiganbayan’s 5th division issued a hold departure order against Estrada and 13 others accused of plunder and graft before it.
The Camp Crame jail isn’t exactly the most welcoming and comfortable of places. But it isn’t cramped and overpopulated, unlike most jails in the Philippines.
Estrada said that should the court order their detention in a “regular” jail, they would file an appeal. Police officials and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II earlier emphasized the custodial center was only a “temporary facility” for the accused in the scam.
But detainees can ask the court to keep them in the high-security Crame jail, if they feel that they are unsafe elsewhere.
Also detained at the custodial center are former generals charged with plunder, suspected terrorists, alleged communist leaders, and suspended police officers. The newly-renovated part of the center was still being worked on when journalists visited on Monday, June 16. (READ: From posh villages to a cell in Camp Crame)
Although plunder is a non-bailable offense, the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure allows for bail when the evidence of guilt is not strong. “Our freedom and liberty is at stake here. We have to file a motion for bail para malaman kung talagang mayroong malakas na ebidensiya o mahina. Iyon lang naman ang idine-determinine noon,” said Estrada.
(We have to file a motion for bail to determine if the evidence is weak or strong. That’s what we’re after, to determine that.)
Besides, Estrada said, they aren't flight risks. "Kaya naman ikinukulong ay baka aalis ng bansa ang isang akusado. In our case, mga high profile personalities kami, makikilala at makikilala kami. So hindi po kami flight risk. We will submit ourselves to the court at any given time na kailangan kami," he said.
(People are jailed because they might run away. We're high profile personalities – people will recognize us whereever we go. We're not flight risks. We will submit ourselves to the court any time we are needed.)
Enrile, ahead of the issuance of an arrest warrant, already asked the Sandiganbayan to allow him to post bail, citing health reasons.
Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scam, is already under detention for allegedly kidnapping former aide turned scam whistleblower Benhur Luy. Napoles also asked a Makati court to allow her to post bail, but it was denied twice.
Napoles’ camp filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals, which in turn ordered Luy and the presiding judge to comment on her camp’s appeal. – Rappler.com