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Enrile, Jinggoy won't apologize for pork barrel scam

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Thursday maintained that they are innocent of the plunder charges over the pork barrel fund misuse until proven guilty by the Sandiganbayan.

As such, Enrile and Estrada rejected calls by a member of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for them and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. to seek forgiveness from the public for the wrong they have done on their constituents.

Enrile, a veteran lawyer, stressed that the trial on their case is just about to start.

“There is no reason for us to be stressed. Yung sinasabi nila na mag-apologize daw kami, bakit naman kami mag-apologize? Hindi rin naman kami nahuhusgahan, nag-uumpisa pa lang ang paglilitis 'di ba?,” Enrile said in a phone patch interview with selected members of the media.

Enrile expressed strong belief that the government has no strong evidence to pin him and his colleagues for plunder.

“That is if I will get arrested… although I am confident, as I see it, that the government has a weak case against us. But we cannot really say (for sure),” he said.

Even as he is confident that he will not be arrested, Enrile said he is preparing materials on the history of political theory, the biography of Nelson Mandela and a book of poems-- along with a magnifying glass-- along with the things which he might bring with him into the jail.

“Para malilibang ako na magbabasa.. Maski nahihirapan na ako magbabasa, ang ginagamit ko ang magnifying glass para mabasa ko ang gusto kong basahin,” he said.

Prior to the interview, Enrile asked Estrada how he is doing amid the recent developments. “Are you alright? Just relax.”

Estrada then told the minority leader that he is doing okay, taking every step at a time.

Mental torture

At a weekly media forum early in the day, Estrada said he is ready to surrender to the Philippine National Police (PNP) through Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong.

Estrada also said that there was no basis for him to apologize.

“Me? Why will I say sorry? Why should I apologize? There is no basis for me apologizing because my conscience is clear,” said Estrada, adding that the waiting game for the issuance of the warrants of arrest against him and his colleagues have been causing him “mental torture.”

Enrile and Estrada made the statement on the eve of the separate hearings by the Sandiganbayan over their petitions for the determination of probable cause.

Estrada’s legal team is headed by former prosecutor Jose Flaminiano and Noel Malaya. The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth division will be conducting a hearing on the petition for determination of probable cause.

Asked for any advice for his colleague, Estrada told his longtime showbiz friend, Revilla, to take refuge in prayers

“Stay cool, always pray,” Estrada told Revilla, noting how he became prayerful when he was detained for plunder along with former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

The young Estrada was eventually granted bail and the plunder case was dismissed against him.

He said prayers worked well for him, prompting him to regularly go to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baclaran since he was freed in 2003.

Estrada is not ruling out the possibility that he will testify in his own trial regarding that pork barrel scam.

While he is ready to surrender, Estrada admitted that he still has fear of getting jailed again. He has to be strong not just for his family, but also for his supporters.

“The fear is always there. The mere thought of getting jailed again, gives me goose bumps. I keep thinking of my children,” Estrada said. “This is the price I have to pay…I know that since I entered politics, this is going to be a dirty game. I will never give up."

“For those who criticize me, you will not be a reason to give up this fight,” said Estrada.

CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT BENJAMIN MAGALONG CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AND DETECTION GROUP ENRILE ENRILE AND ESTRADA ESTRADA JINGGOY ESTRADA JOSE FLAMINIANO AND NOEL MALAYA JUAN PONCE ENRILE AND SEN SANDIGANBAYAN
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