Jinggoy’s camp demands better prison for him

July 31, 2014 9:57 am 

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, July 30 (PNA) — The camp of detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who is facing plunder charges for allegedly pocketing P183-million in pork barrel funds, on Wednesday argued that the accused is not an ordinary prisoner and deserves better prison.

In his 12-page pleading before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division, lead defense lawyer Jose Flaminiano said special treatment was not extended to Estrada at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center because he “is not an ordinary citizen.”

“He is an incumbent senator of the Republic of the Philippines, having served as such since 2004. He is a son of a former President and a member of the former First Family. He was a mayor of the city of San Juan for many years,” the defense counsel said, adding that transferringEstrada to an ordinary jail would pose grave risks upon his person and create numerous security concerns and issues to other detainees and their visitors.

Estrada opposed the prosecution’s request for him to be detained at the prison center being run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), preferably at the BJMP Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City from the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

The defense also cited precedents among prominent public figures who were not thrown in regular jails, including former Sen. Jovito Salonga who was placed under hospital arrest at the Manila Medical Center because of his recurrent bronchial asthma; former President Joseph Estrada who stayed at his family’s rest house in Tanay, Rizal, while undergoing trial for plunder; and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is presently under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center over a P366- million plunder charge.

“Thus, there is no point in transferring the place of detention of Senator Estrada to another prison cell, when his detention at the PNP Custodial Center will equally serve the purpose of limiting his freedom of movement and ensuring that he answers the charge of plunder,” the defense added.

Flaminiano also said Estrada’s right to presumption of innocence should be respected.

“If, as has been held, an arrest is not a penalty – then the source of any move to transfer Senator Estrada to an ordinary jail can only be from spite. Those who insist on putting Senator Estrada in an ordinary prison cell already wish to penalize him for a crime that has yet to be proved and of which he is still presumed innocent,” the defense lawyer said.

The defense also took note that other than Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who is also facing a separate P224.5- million plunder case, there are other “high-risk, high-profile detainees” who have been staying at the PNP Custodial Center.

Among those mentioned in the defense pleading were former PNP Director General Avelino Razon and police Generals Geary Barias, Eliseo Dela Paz, Reynaldo Varilla and Charlemagne Alejandrino who were indicted with malversation of public funds for alleged involvement in anomalous police armored car repair and spare parts contracts worth P385.5 Million; suspected drug lord Jackson Dy and police officers accused of murder in connection with the Atimonan, Quezon rubout case led by Supt. Hansel Marantan. (PNA)

SCS/SFM

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