No deal with Erap on Jinggoy's case after endorsement – Poe

BATANGAS, Philippines (UPDATED) – Presidential bet Grace Poe on Tuesday, March 29, said there was no deal between her and godfather Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada in exchange for the latter’s endorsement of her bid.

Estrada’s son Senator Jinggoy Estrada, Poe’s "kinakapatid" (like a brother), is in detention over his alleged involvement in the multi-million Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel scam.

Poe said there was no agreement of sorts, as she insisted friends and foes would be treated fairly if and when she wins the presidency. Poe claimed Estrada never approached her to ask for favors.

"Wala, si Erap minsan tumatawag o nagtetext, yun lang naman, wala talagang pakiusap tungkol doon," Poe said in a chance interview in San Juan, Batangas.

(Nothing. Erap sometimes calls or texts me, that's it. No requests about it.)

“Di pa nga kami nagpupunta kay Senator Jinggoy matagal na rin. Bagama’t paminsan-minsan nakakausap mo, nate-text mo, kinakamusta mo pero di pa kami talaga nagkikita,” Poe said in a separate interview. (Nothing yet. We haven't gone to Senator Jinggoy for quite some time now. Although sometimes I was able to speak with him, text him, asking how he is, but we haven't really seen each other.)

The Estradas and Poes go a long way back. Estrada and the late action hero Fernando Poe Jr were best friends – the main reason why the former president endorsed FPJ’s daughter.

Poe said there were no personal meetings ahead of Estrada’s announcement on Monday.

The senator found out about it only the night before Estrada’s proclamation rally.

“Actually nalaman ko lang kinagabihan bago yung mismong araw ng endorsement. Kasi ayoko naman siya ilagay sa isang sitwasyon na mapapasubo siya. Alam mo ganoon naman kami, bago endorsement, to wish him luck or whatever, tinatanong kung pupunta ako. Sabi ko mahirap pumunta kasi baka di pa kayo ready mag-endorse…sabi "Bakit, ready na ako," so nakakataba ng puso,” she said.

(Actually I only knew the night before the actual daw of endorsement. Because I didn't want to put him in a situation that would put him in a spot. You know it's really that way before endorsement, to wish him luck or whatever, he asked if I was going. I said it's difficult to go because he might not be ready to endorse. He said, "Why, I'm ready," so it's flattering.)

Good governance platform vs backers

Poe is running on a platform of good governance. In her campaign speeches, Poe uses her alleged inexperience to her own advantage, saying it only goes to show she has no experience in corruption.

The former president was indicted for plunder and was overthrown in 2001.

Aside from the Estradas, another political family involved in the pork barrel scam – the Revillas of Cavite – also backs Poe’s presidential bid. Like Jinggoy, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr is in detention over plunder charges.

Asked how she would reconcile her platform of good governance with her backers accused of corruption, Poe said:

"Kaya nga dapat may FOI (Freedom of Information law) para malaman natin kung meron bang transaction ang presidente o sino pa man sa gobyerno na salungat sa nararapat," she said. (That's why we need an FOI so we would know if the president or any government official engaged in illegal transactions.)

Poe also said, "Kasi kung magbibilangan tayo ng mga ganyan, wala... Lahat naman ay dapat maeksplika. Ang sinasabi ko lamang: kaibigan man kita o kalaban, kapag ikaw ay nagkasala, kailangan ay managot ka; at 'yan naman ay aking napatunayan."

(Because if we were to count things like that, nothing... Everything should be explained. All I am saying is: whether you are a friend or foe, you have to be accountable. This is something I've already proven.)

Poe maintained she would not meddle in the cases of senators Estrada and Revilla. The least she could do, Poe said, is to ensure a speedy and fair trial.

"Sa tingin ko naman kilala ako ng aking ninong. At sa ating mga kababayan, hindi ko naman pababayaan na ganun. Ang magagawa ko lang at magagawa ng isang patas na pangulo ay maging patas ang pagdinig kanino man - sa kaibigan man o kalaban, at maging mabilis (ang kaso)," she said. 

(I think my godfather knows me. And to our countrymen, I will not allow it to happen. What I can do and a fair president can do is to ensure a fair trial for anyone - whether a friend or an opponent and a speedy disposition of the case.) – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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