MANILA,  JUNE 11, 2004
By Delon Porcalla  -  Senator-elect Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada has been allowed by the Sandiganbayan to fly to the United States today to speak before the Filipino community in San Francisco, California on the occasion of the 106th anniversary of Philippine independence.

The anti-graft court’s special division yesterday ordered the 40-year-old former San Juan mayor to post a P100,000 travel cash bond. Estrada was given permission to stay in California up to Monday, June 14, following his weekend talk. In allowing Estrada’s travel, Justices Edilberto Sandoval, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and Ma. Cristina Cortez-Estrada said the evidence against him is not strong that he was granted bail at P500,000.

"It is not only nil but practically non-existent," the justices said in a four-page resolution, referring to the government’s fear that Estrada is a flight risk or that he could avoid prosecution of the plunder charges against him. The justices said Estrada’s travel to California does not bring with it risks or any concern with regard to national security, public safety or public health.

"The mantle of the presumption of innocence still covers him," the resolution said.

The justices said they also recognize the government’s argument that Estrada’s election as a senator will not affect the criminal case against him, and that the trial will proceed as scheduled.

"In fact, the trial continues," the resolution said.

"We are in full agreement with the prosecution that the fact that he has been elected does not alter the truth that he is still one of the principal accused," it said. Retired Manila fiscal Jose Flaminiano, one of Estrada’s lawyers, said his client was invited by organizers of Fiesta Filipina, one of the largest Philippine Independence Day celebrations in North America.

Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa Ignacio has opposed Estrada’s request on grounds that the government has a pending petition before the Supreme Court to cancel his bail. Estrada was granted bail by the special division in March last year.

Jaworski: My fans have died or migrated By Jose Rodel Clapano  The Philippine Star 06/11/2004

Two senators who lost in their bid for re-election last May spoke out yesterday, looking into reasons why they lost and options they now have as future private citizens.  While Sen. Robert Jaworski said that life for him does not end in politics and that basketball beckons once more, Sen. John Osmeña rued the day he decided to run under the administration banner in the last elections.

"That is an arena close to my heart. That is one of the reasons why I am in the Senate, so let’s see," Jaworski said, referring to offers to return to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), where he was one of the league’s most dominant players for two decades. Another option for Jaworski is a post at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). However, a one-year grace period is observed before a losing candidate can be appointed to a government agency. Both Jaworski and Osmeña ran under the administration Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan (K-4).

Osmeña said, "If there’s anything that I would like to say, I made a mistake in the recent election, it is joining the K-4 coalition."

He said he got caught in a no-win situation, since the opposition felt that he had abandoned them, while the administration Lakas never really claimed him as one of its own.

"I am not the one who abandoned Erap (deposed President Joseph Estrada). But nevertheless they figured I abandoned them. So they did not vote for me. But those that I joined (K-4) did not support me (either). In K-4, there is the so-called Lakas and Labas (outsider)," he said. Jaworski, on the other hand, attributed his losing to his former mass base either having migrated or died.

"Well I was a little bit saddened, more than 75 percent of those who voted for me (in 1998) have migrated or some of them have died. As they say, you have to watch out for yourself. I have not gone that far in analyzing," he said. Jaworski, who barely made it to the top 20 in the final tally, did not reveal which team in the PBA has offered him a job or what post in the PSC he is eyeing.

"It has been a very enriching experience in the Senate, from emotional to the reality of politics. It (lost election) does not change my love and vision for the country. So I will pursue my advocacy. I have done my share in so many ways," the national team player said.

Jaworski however did not rule out the possibility of one day running again for the Senate, "if there are opportunities to serve."

"I want to see what’s going to happen and I would like to see the Senate continue. I try my best to uphold the meaning of the institution as far as the welfare and development of our citizenry is concerned," he said.

Osmeña, meanwhile, said his loss last May can be blamed on former President Fidel Ramos, senior leader of Lakas.

"Of course FVR is to blame. You look all over the land. You look at all the areas where he has influence and you will see that I have been junked in these areas. We are not part of Lakas, we are from Labas," he said.

The clearest sign that he was junked, Osmeña said, was when Ramos and Speaker Jose de Venecia raised the hand of former environment secretary Heherson Alvarez in the hustings and political advertisements. He also felt stymied by being in the administration slate, since he had to stick to a "safe" pitch like cellphones, when his style was more aggressive. Osmeña, who will not seek a Cabinet position in the next administration, said he left the opposition because he did not believe Fernando Poe Jr. would make a good president.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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