MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s endorsement on the senatorial bid of plunder-accused Jinggoy Estrada is not expected to affect the administration’s anti-corruption drive.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Estrada is still “presumed innocent” under the Constitution despite being convicted and later bailed out of corruption raps.
“Number one, former senator Estrada is charged with corruption and the Constitution says unless you are convicted with a final judgment, you are presumed innocent. So the assumption is Estrada is innocent,” Panelo stressed.
He added: “Number two, he’s been granted bail. And the reason for the court’s grant of probational liberty is anchored on the fact that evidence of guilt is not strong.”
Estrada was one of the three senators slapped with graft and plunder charges in 2014 for alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.
Panelo further justified Duterte’s endorsement of Estrada saying that the government officials the President fires were shown the door after further investigation.
“Before he fires people pinapaimbestiagahn na niya agad. Hindi naman ‘yung sinabi lang na ‘Presidente corrupt ‘yan’, [then] ‘he’s fired’, hindi naman ganun ang Presidente. You must remember that he’s a lawyer, he’s been trained to evaluate evidences presented before him,” Panelo said.
Since assuming the presidency in 2016, Duterte expressed his disgust on corruption and have fired a number of cabinet members for corruption links./PN