Metro Manila, Philippines — While the Sandiganbayan acquitted Senator Jinggoy Estrada of plunder in the multimillion-peso scandal involving discretionary funds for pet projects of lawmakers, the court found him guilty of direct and indirect bribery
The anti-graft court handed down its verdict on Friday, almost a decade after the case was filed in June 2014.
During an ambush interview after hearing the court’s decision, Estrada said he was “elated” as he was exonerated from the major case slapped against him.
“I’m not guilty of anything. I did not steal any money,” Estrada told reporters.
Two state witnesses, including an employee of businesswoman and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, implicated Estrada in the controversy. Napoles herself is serving time over the scam.
The senator was accused of receiving ₱183 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also known as pork barrel. He was previously detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center before posting bail in 2017.
Although Estrada still needs to face graft charges over a similar issue, the lawmaker has to deal with the “sudden” verdict of the Sandiganbayan.
He was found guilty of one count of direct bribery and two counts of indirect bribery.
“I’m confused since the charge against me is only plunder. But I’m confused why all of a sudden this bribery case came up,” he told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Friday.
“Nevertheless, I still believe in our justice system,” he said.
Estrada said he would ask his lawyers to “exhaust” all legal options to junk the case against him.
“One thing is for sure, nothing is final yet. The case is appealable. I will ask my lawyers to file the necessary motion for reconsideration at the Sandiganbayan,” he added.