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Estrada wants police official cited for contempt

- Delon Porcalla -
A lawyer of jailed former President Joseph Estrada asked the Sandiganbayan yesterday to cite a police official for contempt for switching Estrada’s place of detention at the height of Sunday’s failed military mutiny.

Under orders from Chief Superintendent Prospero Noble, a heavily guarded convoy spirited Estrada out of Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City toward the military intelligence compound at Camp Aguinaldo to prevent a purported attempt to spring the detainee.

He was brought back to the military hospital a few hours later.

Officials said there were credible intelligence reports that an unnamed group plotted to rescue Estrada to take advantage of the mutiny by some 300 soldiers.

But Estrada lawyer Manuel Pamaran said the mutiny had nothing to do with the detained leader, stressing the police failed to secure a court order to move him.

"The court should make him (Noble) appear and explain why it did happen," Pamaran said.

"Approval of the court cannot be dispensed with. Only the court has the power to order his transfer of confinement. No other branch of government can interfere. And of all places, they brought him to a military camp. Respect or due deference to the court should have been given," he said.

Chief prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio said the police only did their job, to secure Estrada in times of danger. "I precisely don’t see double standard here because of the urgency of the situation. The situation at that time was uncertain," he told the court.

"The crisis was peaceful. Not a gunshot was fired," Pamaran said.

Sandiganbayan sheriff Ed Urieta earlier told The STAR he had informed the court’s presiding justice, Minita Chico-Nazario, about the transfer and got verbal approval.

While not directly linking Estrada to the mutiny, officials said they had raided two homes in Mandaluyong City allegedly owned by him and a former aide where the soldiers allegedly plotted their move.

Interior Secretary Jose Lina said authorities were filing rebellion charges against key Estrada ally, opposition Sen. Gregorio Honasan, who allegedly helped plan Sunday’s mutiny. Honasan denied he was involved.

Estrada denied any involvement and warned the charges would sow political disunity.

"At this crucial moment, when those in power need to examine themselves and their conduct that made our idealistic junior officers to rise up with their arms, I find it disgusting that some quarters in government are already scheming to blame this incident on the opposition," he said in a statement.

"This is another cheap and crude attempt by the government to gloss over and bury the legitimate demands of our young officers by twisting the issue," he said.

The rebel soldiers, who surrendered late Sunday, had demanded the resignation of President Arroyo, who was swept to power in 2001 when Estrada was ousted by a military-backed popular uprising. — With AFP

BUT ESTRADA

CAMP AGUINALDO

CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT PROSPERO NOBLE

COURT

DENNIS VILLA-IGNACIO

ED URIETA

ESTRADA

GREGORIO HONASAN

INTERIOR SECRETARY JOSE LINA

MANDALUYONG CITY

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