His own conquests may have been measured often against that of his father’s, in showbiz and in politics, in greatness and in notoriety, but those never really comes close to outstrip Erap, save for one – plunder case. In this particular enterprise, he outnumbered the former president, two to one.
The recent filing of plunder charges against Sen. Jinggoy Estrada et.al. by DOJ for Ombudsman investigation has made the urge to step back a bit almost irresistible, even compulsory and revisit his short flirtation with legal history a not-so-long time ago.
2001 plunder case 1: Jueteng payola
When erstwhile bosom buddies Chavit Singson and Erap Estrada decided to become worst enemies due to disagreement over a jueteng franchise, Singson after a botched attempt on his life decided to go public and expose the tremendous payola operations from which the father-and-son tandem pocketed millions of pesos. An incumbent mayor of San Juan then, he was charged (along with his father and several other individuals as co-accused) with plunder in the Sandiganbayan court.
The plunder case consisted of four separate charges: acceptance of 545 million pesos from proceeds of jueteng, an illegal gambling game; misappropriation of 130 million pesos in excise taxes from tobacco; receiving a 189.7-million-peso commission from the sale of the shares of Belle Corporation, a real-estate firm; and owning some 3.2 billion pesos in a bank account under the name Jose Velarde. The minor charge of perjury is for Estrada under-reporting his assets in his 1999 statement of assets and liabilities and for the illegal use of an alias, namely for the Jose Velarde bank account.
He was briefly detained with his father in Tanay, Rizal while the case was being heard in Sandiganbayan. On 2004, he was temporary released on bail together with his co-aacused lawyer Atty. Edward Serapio just in time for the election. He ran for the senate and won the same year.
On September 12, 2007, he was unanimously acquitted by Sandiganbayan’s Presiding Justice Teresita De Castro and two other magistrates while his father, was found guilty of plunder charges. Several weeks later, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pardoned Erap.
2013 plunder case 2: Pork barrel scam
After almost 12 years, the embattled senator once again found himself in a familiar territory of troubled waters, but this time with his buddy – Sen. Bong Revilla. Among the 38 persons charged for investigation by Ombudsman with plunder, this time the senator faced a fiercer battle with the law, with the people, and with the truth. He was alleged to have diverted P183.79 Million from his PDAF , through Napoleses’ bogus NGO and back to his personal bank accounts. With truckloads of evidences being presented, said to be all 750,000 pages of them, it is almost unimaginable for him to escape the waiting jail unless some sort of demonic intervention will heed his prayers.
By the looks of it, the only hope he now has is when God Himself decides to banish all the evils of this earth, taking the rest of us with him to oblivion.
Despite the odds he faced, Jinggoy continues to exhibit a fighting stance unlike Revilla who resorted to the ‘awa’ effect. He vehemently denied he has done anything wrong by endorsing NGOs, which is not a crime according to him.
The legal battle looming in the distance does not promise anything for Jinggoy, nor for the angry public who would want to see everyone guilty inside a filthy cell. But it does give interim hope for everyone who have lost it a long time ago.
Right now, I can only feel sad for him. For he will be remembered not for anything, but for the sordid tale of his two plunders.