ACTOR FRIENDS BAIL OUT JINGGOY   

Quezon City, March 7, 2003 -- Former San Juan Mayor Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada was bailed out today by his close friends in show business.

Estrada, who has been detained with his father, ousted president Joseph Estrada since 2001 on plunder charges, was bailed out after the Sandiganbayan ruled there was not enough evidence to prove the former San Juan mayor conspired with his father to acquire ill-gotten wealth.

Plunder, under Philippine laws, is a non-bailable offense.

Actors Philip Salvador and Rudy Fernandez posted a 500,000-pesos cash bond for Estrada.

Lawyer Noel Malaya, one of Estrada's lawyers, said the anti-graft court was processing the papers for his client's release. He added that Estrada was also required to appear before the Sandiganbayan to sign pertinent documents.

Estrada's followers are preparing a warm welcome for him in San Juan town.

From the Veteran's Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, where he has been detained with the former president, the younger Estrada was scheduled to attend a thanksgiving mass at the Pinaglabanan Church in San with his family and supporters.

Employees at the municipal hall, where his half-brother Jose Victor "JV" Ejercito now sits as mayor, have stopped work to prepare the welcome for their former boss.

Arrested with his father on April 25, 2001, the young Estrada spent almost two years in detention. The decision came more than a year after the Supreme Court refused to rule on his petition for bail, saying it was a decision that only the anti-graft court could make.

The jueteng allegations form one of the four predicate crimes that make up the 4.1-billion-peso plunder case against the elder Estrada and eight others. Jinggoy was implicated as an alleged co-conspirator only for this crime.

Legal observers said the anti-graft court's ruling showing the weak evidence on the conspiracy angle bolstered the case of the former president.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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