Jinggoy Estrada bail shows Duterte 'dictatorship' – De Lima
MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima slammed the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan for allowing former senator Jinggoy Estrada to post bail on Saturday, September 16, a sign of an "absolute dictatorship" under President Rodrigo Duterte.
De Lima, who herself is in jail for multiple drug charges, said she is alarmed that the "trademark impunity" of the executive branch under Duterte "appears to have found its way into the judiciary."
"After a previous bail denial on the ground that the evidence against Estrada is strong, a reconstituted Sandiganbayan Division with Duterte appointees suddenly finds cause to set Estrada free not because they now find the evidence weak, but because the court thinks that Estrada is not a flight risk," said De Lima in a letter.
"Is the judiciary now introducing new procedure and doctrines just to accommodate the whims of the President?" asked the detained senator.
"What we have now is an absolute dictatorship, with a President able to dictate on Congress and now, the judiciary, and with a Congress and a judiciary that allow themselves to be dictated upon as such," said De Lima.
She warned the country is approaching a period comparable to the dictatorship of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, "a time when the subservience of the judiciary was symbolized by the Chief Justice serving as the umbrella-holder of [former First Lady] Imelda Marcos."
De Lima was the Department of Justice chief who oversaw the filing of cases against Estrada and former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla after they were implicated in the pork barrel scam.
Estrada is now free after posting bail worth P1.33 million. (READ: Jinggoy Estrada eyes PH-wide 'thank you tour')
Enrile was allowed to post bail in 2015, while Revilla remains in jail over plunder and graft charges. (READ: Jinggoy Estrada: I have 'mixed feelings' about leaving Camp Crame)
"The exoneration of plunderers under this administration is almost complete," said De Lima as she cited the favorable court decisions received by Enrile, Estrada, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and the Marcoses as well as the "impending release" of Revilla and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
"Congress might as well decriminalize the crime of plunder and repeal the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because they have become useless and worthless under Duterte and his virtual amnesty program for the country's top plunderers," said De Lima. – Rappler.com