Enrile’s birthday wish for Jinggoy? To be president
MANILA, Philippines – The two men at the center of controversy over the pork barrel scam celebrated their birthdays together, dismissing the allegations against them and even seeing a return to power.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada marked his 51st birthday by hosting a lunch for political allies, family and friends on Monday, February 17. Estrada held his birthday lunch in the same place where he supposedly received millions of pesos in kickbacks from the pork barrel scam: his Senate office.
Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, who celebrated his 90th birthday last Friday, made a wish for Estrada that stunned the younger senator and his guests.
“I hope he will handle all the challenges before him and he will become a president of the country,” Enrile said. “That is the dream of all politicians. That is my wish for him. Anyway, it’s just a birthday wish.”
Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada was at the table with Enrile and his son. The elder Estrada was asked whether or not Jinggoy still has a chance in the 2016 polls despite the plunder complaint against him.
He said, “Yes, why not?”
Watch the video here:
Return to power
The former president and his son compared the pork barrel case to the plunder case they faced after Estrada’s ouster in 2001, when they were accused of receiving payoffs from the illegal numbers game jueteng. They were confident that like what happened then, they would be freed from prison and would return to power. (READ: How Jinggoy got away in his first plunder charge)
The former president said, “The problem is it’s a vicious cycle. They are conditioning the minds of the people through publicity, they’re (Enrile and Jinggoy) already guilty. But it’s always presumed that people are innocent unless proven guilty. And yet these people seem to be the prosecutor. That’s what they did to me.”
Estrada conceded that the scam has affected Jinggoy’s political chances at present. Yet the man who was convicted of plunder – only to later place second in the 2010 presidential polls and become mayor of the capital – said his son will eventually recover.
“When he’s cleared, he will become more popular.”
Enrile, Senator Estrada, and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr face a plunder complaint for funneling their pork barrel funds to fake non-governmental organizations of alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in exchange for kickbacks. (READ: Pork Tales: A story of corruption)
‘Saddest birthday was in jail’
Senator Estrada said his birthday wish was obvious. “I hope they stop the persecution against me.”
The younger Estrada said he is happy on his birthday despite all the controversies. “Masaya na rin dahil ang pinakamalungkot na birthday na pinagdiriwang ko, nakakulong ako eh. Dalawang taon din ako nag-celebrate ng birthday sa kulungan. Mas malungkot iyon.”
(I am happy in a way because the saddest birthday I celebrated was when I was in jail. For two years, I celebrated my birthday in jail. That’s sadder.)
The senator said he draws strength from his faith, family and ordinary people who greeted him on his birthday. “Ang mga tao, lalung-lalo na ang masang Pilipino na lagi akong sinusuportahan kahit ganito ang kinasasangkutan ko.”
(The Filipino masses continue supporting me despite what I’m going through.)
Showbiz reporters asked the actor-politician whether he still gets a “good night’s sleep.” Estrada responded, “Oo naman dahil malinis ang konsensya ko.” (Of course, because my conscience is clear.)
Estrada said he forgave all those who wronged him, “especially Tita Ruby.” He was referring to socialite Ruby Tuason, a close family friend who testified that she was a bagman of the senator and is now implicating him in the scam.
“Alam kong si Tita Ruby, she doesn’t want to see me in jail. Alam kong ginawa niya ‘yun para lang maligtas ang sarili niya. She was forced to do so. Napilitan lang iyon dahil siyempre marami siyang properties, marami siyang dapat proteksyunan. Sabi niya going to jail is worse than death, siyempre gagawin niya ang lahat.”
(I know Tita Ruby doesn’t want to see me in jail. I know she is only doing that to save herself. She was forced to do so because she has many properties, many interests to protect. She said going to jail is worse than death so of course she is doing everything to avoid that.)
‘Together through crucifixion, vindictiveness’
Besides his father and mentor Enrile, Estrada also received greetings from his colleagues in the Senate minority, who attended his birthday lunch.
Senator JV Ejercito gave a “short but sweet” message to the half-brother he had a rivalry with. “Just be strong in spite of all these trials, continue to pray.”
Senator Gregorio Honasan II also had a message for Enrile and Estrada. “We wish them strength of mind, body and spirit so they can continue serving God, country and family.”
For Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Enrile and Estrada have long been in politics and already know how to “roll with the punches.”
“They’re very strong people. That’s a good sign of leaders. When the leader is strong, no matter what accusation you throw against him, he can handle it,” Sotto said.
Senator Nancy Binay said the group remains solid in the face of all kinds of controversy.
“Parang marami na ngang pinagdaanan ang grupo na ito. Nung time pa lang ni Presidente Erap, kami-kami pa rin magkakasama. This is nothing new to us. It’s the same experience, pagka-crucify. Ganun pa rin ang level ng vindictiveness.”
(This group has gone through so much. Since the time of President Erap, we’ve been together. It’s the same experience of being crucified, it's the same level of vindictiveness.)
What is former President Estrada’s wish for his son? “Sana dumating ang araw na gumandang lalaki siya kaysa sa akin.” (I hope the time comes when he becomes more handsome than me.) – Rappler.com