MANILA - Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada believes the acquittal of his friend and colleague Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. will boost his chances of being cleared of plunder and graft raps over the multibillion peso "pork barrel" scam.
Estrada, who has been out on bail since September 2017, is accused of pocketing P183 million in kickbacks from fake projects, purportedly with help from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged scam mastermind.
"I hope so. I'm hoping and praying," the former lawmaker told ANC, after being asked if the acquittal would boost his chances of receiving a similar verdict from the Sandiganbayan.
Aside from Estrada and Revilla, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who is also out on bail, was also accused of pocketing P172 million in discretionary funds using the same scheme. All three are eyeing a Senate comeback in the upcoming midterm polls.
Estrada believes the acquittal of Revilla also boosts their chances of winning in the 2019 polls. He is also very happy that his friend can now walk free after 4 years in detention.
"Medyo malaki yung boost sa amin ngayon, lalo na sa 'kin. Dahil na-acquit si Senator Bong Revilla, siguro unti-unti nang nalalaman ng taumbayan na medyo napagkaisahan lang kami in the previous administration," he said.
(This is a big boost for us, especially for me. Because of Senator Bong Revilla's acquittal, people are slowly seeing that we were really targeted during the previous administration.)
Revilla, who was accused of embezzling P224 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund, discretionary funds while he was still senator, was cleared of plunder charges. But he is still facing separate graft cases.
Napoles and Revilla's former chief of staff Richard Cambe were found guilty by the Sandiganbayan First Division.