Jinggoy to remain as senator despite bribery conviction – Zubiri

(GMA NEWS) Senator Jinggoy Estrada will remain a senator despite his bribery conviction in connection with the pork barrel scam, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Friday.

In a statement, Zubiri noted that there are still legal remedies that Estrada can use regarding his conviction by the Sandiganbayan 5th Division.

“He has the right to exhaust all of these (legal remedies). He can still file a Motion for Reconsideration with the Sandiganbayan; he can still file an appeal by certiorari with the Supreme Court,” he said. 

“Until and unless the decision becomes final and executory, Sen. Jinggoy is duty-bound to continue performing his functions as Senator of the Republic,” Zubiri added.

In a 396-page decision handed down on Friday, the Sandiganbayan 5th Division acquitted Estrada of plunder but convicted him of direct and indirect bribery for the alleged misuse of his pork barrel from 2004 to 2010. 

Estrada has repeatedly maintained his innocence.

According to Zubiri, the Senate respects the ruling of the anti-graft court.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, for his part, said they expect Estrada to continue to “stay focused on his job and carry out his duties and responsibilities in service to the nation, especially to the 15,108,625 Filipinos, who entrusted him with their votes and confidence.”

Estrada’s brother, Senator JV Ejercito, meanwhile urged everyone to “respect the wisdom and fairness of our justice system.”

“Our justice system, despite its imperfection, is there to maintain law and order, protect our rights, and provide justice,” Ejercito said in a separate statement.

Ejercito said he wishes Estrada well and will continue praying for him and his family.

Interviewed after his promulgation, Estrada expressed elation that he was exonerated by the court in his plunder case. 

“That means I am not guilty of anything. I did not steal any money. I did not receive any money from whoever,” the son of former President Joseph Estrada said.

Asked if he was surprised by the guilty verdict for bribery, Estrada said he has yet to read the Sandiganbayan decision. 

Estrada’s lawyer, Atty. Alexis Abastillas Suarez, said they would study the ruling first before coming up with their next legal move.

“So titignan muna namin, basahin muna natin ‘yung decision ng court kung anong basis nila for the bribery,” Suarez said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

(So we will see, we will read the decision of the court regarding their basis for the bribery.)

Still, Suarez said they consider the plunder acquittal as “a very, very big victory.”  —KBK, GMA Integrated News