Sandigan junks Estrada bid to participate in canvassing of votes

THE Sandiganbayan denied Thursday the plea of detained Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, who is facing plunder and graft charges, to attend the canvassing of votes for the 2016 presidential elections.

The court's Fifth Division said Estrada cannot discharge his function as senator and member of the Philippine Congress since it "would give him undeserved favor over and above ordinary detainees".

After the elections in May, the House of Representatives and the Senate, will convene as the National Board of Canvassers, which is tasked to count the votes for the presidential and vice-presidential races.

The court sided with the prosecution, which said that "all prisoners whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence cannot practice their profession nor engage in any business or occupation, or hold office (both) elective or appointive while in detention."

The anti-graft court further said that Congress, as whole in a joint session, can perform its duty determining the authenticity and due execution of the certificate of canvass without the presence of the accused Estrada.

"There are 288 members of the House of Representatives while the Senate has 24 members… such an aberrant situation not only elevates accused-appellants’s status to that of a special class, it also would be a mockery of the purposes of the correction system," the resolution read.

Estrada is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center inside Camp Crame in Quezon City due to his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.

Meanwhile, Estrada on Thursday asked the court to allow him to attend the proclamation rally of his daughter, Janella Ejercito, on April 2.

Ejercito is running for vice mayor in San Juan City in the May 9 polls. (Sunnex)

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