March 18, 2018, 10:09 am
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THE SANDIGANBAYAN Fifth Division voted 3-2 this weekend acceding to the grant of bail to former senator Jinggoy Estrada. The same court had earlier denied him such bail, thus the former lawmaker spent more than three years in detention at the Camp Crame custodial center.

Estrada, along with former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., is facing plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the pork barrel scam of Mrs. Janet Napoles, his co-accused.

In reconsidering its decision, the Sandiganbayan gave weight to Jinggoy Estrada’s being a public personality and former government official. The former senator also submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the judicial system, turning himself in immediately after an arrest order had been issued against him and even accepting the hardship of three years of detention while bail hearings are in progress.

These two factors somewhat negate the possibility that Estrada will disappear and evade responsibility. On his first minutes as a free man following his posting of bail at the Sandiganbayan last Saturday, Estrada promised to attend each and every hearing of his cases.

Come to think of it, Jinggoy has shown a good example among his peers and other government officials when it comes to giving full meaning to respect for the rule of law. As a lawmaker, he contributed much in crafting practical legislation that touched the lives of ordinary people, such as the kasambahay (house helper). 

In taking responsibility and accepting the risks inherent in prosecution of perceived illegal acts, Senator Estrada is head and shoulders above two other gentlemen, both members of the Senate at present, who disappeared in thin air as serious felony charges are filed against them, along with threats of arrest and detention.

Jinggoy’s high regard for the law is expected because he is actually a chip off the old block. Former President Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada, now mayor of Manila, has shown to all and sundry that he is one president who will respect the legal process even if it would mean risking his hold on the presidency.

Erap dutifully submitted himself to the Senate impeachment court in year 2000, and barely complained when the prosecutor-lawmakers walked out illegally and the chair did not cite them for contempt or ordered them back. Court proceedings deserve respect especially because it was the highest impeachment court. Erap underwent the rigors of trial, long detention, and conviction. He never wavered in his faith that in the end, he will a free man, which is exactly what happened.

His son Jinggoy is now free, outside of detention and back to normal life in society, but faces some more challenges as his various cases are heard in court.

Jinggoy’s camp thinks that the fact that he has been given bail augurs well for his acquittal in the future because of weak evidence. – DC
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