Sen. Jinggoy Estrada opens up to Balitang America

Three senators believed to have been key players in the multi-billion pork barrel scam in the Philippines have already been charged with plunder. One of them, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, is in the United States for medical reasons.
Estrada sat down with Balitang America’s LA Correspondent Steve Angeles for an exclusive interview, and talked about what could be the toughest battle of his political career.
Here is Steve’s account of Jinggoy’s statement as reported on The Filipino Channel’s daily newscast Balitang America:
“I accompanied my wife in San Francisco to undergo a medical check-up again because of the lump on her breast, but fortunately doctors gave her a clean bill of health,” Estrada told Balitang America.
“And my case, before I came over I injured my left knee while playing basketball. I thought I was 30 years old, so I injured my knee. It was very fortunate for me that my orthopedic surgeon is here in San Francisco. So I got to talk to him and he x-rayed. The results were not that good.”
Earlier this week, the 51-year-old senator filed a motion for reconsideration at the Office of the Ombudsman — just days after the agency filed plunder and graft charges against him and several others, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla, and alleged pork barrel mastermind, Janet Napoles.
In his motion, Estrada claimed that he was not given reasonable opportunity to contest the findings. He also questioned the credibility of several whistleblowers.
“I’m not fazed by these charges against me because, as I’ve read the resolution of the Ombudsman, the case against me is really very, very weak,” Estrada said.
“I’ve been there before. I’ve been charged for plunder 10 years ago only to be acquitted of the file charged against me by the Sandiganbayan.”
“The only fault that I did, according to the resolution was to endorse repeatedly the NGOs. Well, as far as I’m concerned these NGOs were accredited by the implementing agencies. So they cannot fault me for that,” he added.
Estrada, who has been speculated as a potential vice presidential candidate in 2016, believes he and other lawmakers have become unfairly targeted and are already undergoing trial by publicity.
Estrada assures that he will return to the Philippines after Holy Week, and that he is prepared to clear his name.
“I will face my detractors, I will face my accusers — definitely [in] the unfortunate event [that] the Ombudsman will transfer the case to the Sandiganbayan,” he said. “I will face all my accusers there.”
Having aired Estrada’s side in a two-part , 7-minute report, Balitang America asked our viewers: If Estrada proves that he is innocent of plunder charges against him in the pork barrel scam, will they vote for him for higher office (possibly as vice presidential candidate for 2016 presidential hopeful Jejomar Binay, based on many media reports)?
Unfortunately for Jinggoy, the online poll results reflected what he has been fearing all along. For many Filipinos, he may already be deemed guilty even before he has his day in court — a reflection of how sick and tired many Filipinos in America are of government corruption in the Philippines.
An overwhelming majority (98 percent) of those who voted said that they would think twice before voting for Estrada, after all the allegations of corruption against him.
Only 2 percent said they would still support Jinggoy, because they believe in his leadership track record as a public servant.
Viewers, who left messages on, had this to say:
“Medical for his wife and himself.  GMA, Corona, Ampatuan, Estrada and Napoles are all sick — rubbish!” – Kuya
“Hey Jinggoy, get real. You’re done in office and you know that. You’re lucky it happened in the Philippines [and] not in America [or else]  you would have [gotten] 50 years to life for what you did to the poor Filipinos.” – JRB
“Sawang-sawa na ako sa Philippine government. Kitang-kita na ang mga ebidensya but sa huli aabswelto pa din. Walang ngipin ang batas sa kanila. so pauli-ulit nilang gagawin ang corruption. So mga taong bayan boto, taong bayan reklamo. Bulok [ang] style ng prinsipyo. Ang nangyayari walang asenso, walang pagbabago ang bansa. Ang mahirap, lalong naghihirap at ang mga corrupt, lalong yumayaman kasi sarili lang ang tinitignan. Mga greedy sa power, position at pera.”  – Bee
“The legitimacy of the Philippine Senate is in shambles, for not honoring the hard work of another institutions, like [the] COA [and the Office of the] OMBUDSMAN, and even their own colleagues in the Blue Ribbon Committee. The probable cause by the Ombudsman is thorough investigative work that the Senator should respect. Stop hiding outside the Philippines and face the consequences of [his] wrongdoing. I myself want to go back in the Philippines for good, but people like you [are] preventing that [from happening], because resources that everyone should be enjoying [are stolen] by people like you.” – GaPelina
“A huge, disrespectful misstep on the part of ABS-CBN Int’l. to egg/add insult to their North American viewers, by legitimizing [Jinggoy’s] arrogance/disrespect of the law of the land, which he claims to uphold. Litigated by the press? I doubt it; but for the benefit of the doubt, Jinggoy, as guilty he is, is also using media to play his biased trickery.” – Shamed
“What a shame and pitiful condition. Poor people should have been helped by the funds these politicians [have] lavished on their families, cronies and girlfriends on the side. I hope this case will not be delayed until next election because people are talking that [once] new candidates (the one in position now,  who are friends with the Estradas, will take over, HE will make ways and means to cover this up and clear this case for them. This is Philippine politics of dynasty. There should be a private foundation to start to fund a “whistle-blower barrel” to reward all those working around public offices [who] report all anomalies happening in their own offices. They should be protected and rewarded so that graft and corruption will stop. These movie stars are making it their ambition to get rich quick by running for political positions, with poor people [as] their victims. When these politicians get caught in a bind, they travel to the US or other countries for medical reasons. They get sick quick and need a vacation. What a scam they play! PEOPLE WAKE UP!” – Andee Patino

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to and

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