MANILA - Senator Jinggoy Estrada believes the filing of the plunder cases against him and his two colleagues in the Senate was "railroaded" by the Office of the Ombudsman in time for President Benigno Aquino III's State of the Nation Address (SONA) next month.
Speaking to radio dzMM on Saturday, Estrada said he was not surprised with the filing of plunder raps against him, and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. before the Sandiganbayan yesterday.
He noted that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales already said in New York last month that there is enough evidence to prove their guilt.
Estrada claimed it is "very obvious" that the Ombudsman deliberately hastened the filing of charges against them so that they will be put in jail before Aquino delivers his SONA in July.
"Sabi niya (Morales) pagbalik daw niya pag-aaralan daw niya yung aming mga motions for reconsideration. Eh bakit kararating lang niya eh finile agad sa Sandiganbayan?... Halatang-halata naman na masyadong minadali yung kaso namin na iakyat sa Sandiganbayan," he said.
"Baka hinahabol nila na makulong kami bago mag-SONA si Presidente Aquino...para sa kanilang anti-corruption drive," he added.
The Ombudsman on Friday afternoon formally filed before the Sandiganbayan plunder charges against the three senators over the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam as well as Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scheme.
Also included in the charge sheet are Revilla's staff Richard Cambe, Estrada's former staff Pauline Labayen, Enrile's former chief of staff Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, Ronald John Lim, and John Raymund de Asis.
Their cases will be raffled off next week. The Sandiganbayan division which will handle the cases is expected to issue an arrest order for the respondents.
'Spare Manong Johnny'
According to Estrada, he will voluntarily surrender himself to authorities once an arrest warrant is issued against him, adding that he wouldn't even mind if he would be arrested inside the Senate grounds.
"Okay lang [arestuhin sa Senado]. Ako naman kusa akong susuko kung gusto nila. Sabihin lang nila kung saan nila ako gustong papuntahin, pupunta ako. Ako madali akong kausapin... I will not escape arrest."
Estrada, who is accused of plundering P183 million, said he is not afraid to face all the allegations against him and prove that these are all just lies.
"Malinis po ang aking konsensya," he said.
The senator, however, appealed not to put Enrile in jail due to his old age. Enrile is 90 years old.
"Siyempre 90 years old na yung tao, nakakaawa naman kahit papaano. Sana huwag na nilang ikulong yung matanda. Hayaan na nila kami makulong, huwag lang si Manong Johnny," he said.
'PNoy admin singling us out'
Meanwhile, Estrada again criticized the Aquino administration for supposedly singling them out in its investigation on the pork barrel scam.
He said government "never lifted a finger to even investigate the allies of the administration."
"Bakit kami lang? Yun ang masakit dun eh," he said.
Three Cabinet members have been linked to the anomaly -- Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Joel Villanueva.
But despite them being tagged in the controversy, they continue to enjoy the trust of the President, who refuse to believe the allegations against them.
"Pero pag sa amin naniniwala," Estrada said.