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Senator Jinggoy Estrada will be spending the holidays in detention after the Fifth Division of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan denied his request for a three-day Christmas and New Year furlough for lack of merit.
"Indeed, accused-movant, being a detention prisoner, cannot be allowed the full enjoyment of his rights, be it civil or political, just like all other detention prisoners," court said in a two-page ruling issued on Friday.
Estrada, in a petition filed on Dec. 12 has asked the court for a Christmas furlough on December 25, and December 31 to January 1 saying that it is their family's "most honored and respected tradition" to be together during the holidays.
Earlier in the day the prosecution submitted before the court a four-page opposition paper on Estrada's motion, saying that the lawmaker was not able to present any legal ground for the court to grant such a request.
The prosecution also argued that, granting Estrada's request "would unduly create an impression on the public that Estrada, being a high-ranking public official, is a favored detainee over and above other similarly situated detainees.
The prosecution said this would set a "bad precedent" and makes a "mockery of the entire judicial process."
"We agree with the prosecution that to allow the accused-movant to leave his detention cell will not only set a bad precedent, but will likewise be regarded as a mockery of the administration of justice," the ruling said.
"Moreover, allowing the accused to leave his detention cell on the requested period will entail additional and considerable government expenses to safeguard his security and safety," the court added.
The ruling was signed by Associate Justices Roland Jurado, Oscar Herrera Jr. and Ma. Theresa Dolores Estoesta.
Estrada is facing graft and plunder charges for allegedly channeling millions of pesos of his pork barrel allocations to bogus NGOs owned by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, in exchange for kickbacks. The Fifth Division is currently hearing his bail petition.
He is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame. —KG, GMA News