Jinggoy says plunder raps an 'April Fools operation'
MANILA - Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday described as a "well synchronized April Fool's Day operation" the decision of both the Ombudsman and the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to recommend the filing of plunder charges against him and several others linked to the pork scam.
In a statement he read over ANC, Estrada said he was not expecting fair treatment from the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee since the chairman, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, had already prejudged the proceedings even prior to the release of the committee report.
He also said some Blue Ribbon Committee members showed bias and partiality against their own colleagues "in pursuit of personal ambitions and political agenda."
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Wednesday recommended the filing of charges against Senators Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile for allegedly funneling their priority development assistance funds to bogus foundations set up by Janet Lim Napoles.
Also on Wednesday, the Ombudsman said it found sufficient evidence to file the charges against Napoles, the three senators and other individuals for their alleged links to the scam.
Estrada, however, questioned why the Blue Ribbon Committee report and the Ombudsman recommendations came out on the same day.
"It's a very well synchronized April Fool's Day operation," he said.
He questioned why the Blue Ribbon Committee and the Ombudsman only concentrated on himself, Sen. Bong Revilla and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile when there were other lawmakers identified in the Commission on Audit special report on the use of pork barrel funds from 2007 to 2009.
He also questioned why the investigation concentrated on the non-government organizations linked to Napoles when the COA report also mentioned NGOs that got bigger pork barrel allocations.
"Clearly kami po ang pinagplanuhan, pinagkaisahan at naging biktima ng sabwatan para magpapogi ang imahe ng ilan sa aming kasamahan sa Senado," he said.
Estrada reiterated that he can defend himself before any court and that he had no knowledge of the misuse of his pork barrel funds.
He denied receiving kickbacks from Napoles, socialite Ruby Tuason or any personality being linked to the scam.
In a separate statement, the camp of Senator Revilla said they are not surprised by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report.
"This just affirms our suspicion from the beginning that this was merely an exercise in persecution," said lawyer Joel Bodegon.
The Revilla camp said the release of the report before it has been approved only shows that the Blue Ribbon Committee hearings are an exercise to besmirch personalities.
"It does not add any value to the accusations against Senator Revilla. In fact, this just shows how systematic the attacks against him are. More than ferreting out the truth, it seems that the report was meant to exert pressure on the Ombudsman to hastily persecute Senators Revilla, Enrile and Estrada," Revilla's lawyer said.
"Despite this development, and other obstacles and hindrances against the truth, we are confident that justice will prevail. A thorough and just examination and appreciation of all existing pieces of evidence will lead to only one conclusion, and that is the vindication of Senator Revilla."