CALIFORNIA - Embattled Senator Jinggoy Estrada is in Southern California and is ready to fight to clear his name.
As the alleged pork barrel scam has developed into plunder charges, the lawmaker alleged to have played a role in the multi-billion peso embezzlement scheme has already been in the United States for the past few weeks.
He explained the main purpose for the visit is medical, both for himself and wife Precy.
“I accompanied my wife in San Francisco to undergo a medical check-up again because of the lump on her breast, but fortunately doctors gave her a clean bill of health. In my case, before I came over, I injured my left knee while playing basketball. I thought I was 30 years old, but I injured my knee. It was very fortunate for me that my orthopedic surgeon is here in San Francisco. So I got to talk to him and he did an X-ray. The results were not that good,” he said.
Earlier this week, the 51-year-old senator filed his motion for reconsideration at the Office of the Ombudsman just days after it found basis to file plunder and graft charges against him and several others including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla, and alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Napoles.
In his motion, Estrada claimed he was not given reasonable opportunity to contest the findings.
He also questioned the credibility of several whistleblowers.
“I'm not fazed by these charges against me because as I've read the resolution of the Ombudsman, the case against me is really very, very weak. I've been there before. I've been charged for plunder ten years ago only to be acquitted of the charges against me by the Sandiganbayan,” he said.
He said the only “fault” he did per the resolution was to endorse repeatedly several nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
“Well, as far as I'm concerned these NGOs were accredited by the implementing agencies so they cannot fault me for that,” he said.
Estrada, a potential vice presidential candidate in 2016, believes he and other lawmakers have become unfairly targeted and are already undergoing a trial by publicly.
He said his critics are already trying to condition the minds of the Filipinos.
“There were a lot of names of the allies of this administration who were also allegedly involved with this so called PDAF scam, but apparently the officials of this government are trying to shield them for reasons that are known only to them. Ang [tinuturo] talaga tatlo lang: Estrada, Enrile, Revilla, Revilla, Enrile, Estrada, Revilla, Estrada, tatlo lang. They're revolving around the three of us. Sexy, matanda at tsaka pogi yun lang,” he said.
The whistleblowers have used aliases for the senators supposedly involved in the pork scam. "Sexy" is believed to be Estrada, "Tanda" is Enrile, and "Pogi" is Revilla.
Estrada assured that he will return to the Philippines after the Holy Week.
He said he is prepared to clear his name.
“I will face my detractors, I will face my accusers definitely in the unfortunate event the Ombudsman will transfer the case to the Sandiganbayan. I will face all my accusers there,” he said.
While other alleged players in the pork scam are believed to be in hiding in other parts of the world, Estrada said his track record in the Senate when it comes to punctuality should speak for itself.
“Ako lang siguro ang senador na hindi nag-absent sa Senado. Kahit kelan, hindi ako late. Siguro once lang sa buong 9 years sa senado. I owe it to the millions of Filipinos who voted for me,” he said.