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PIA Press Release
2007/09/13

Zambo mayor sad but asks Erap supporters to accept decision

Zamboanga City (September 13) -- Mayor Celso Lobregat is saddened by the Sandiganbayan's decision convicting former President Joseph Estrada of plunder but appealed to Estrada's supporters to peacefully accept the decision.

"It is a sad day and we hope that everybody including the supporters of former President Estrada will submit to the decision of the Court", Mayor Lobregat said as he expressed hopes that the former president will immediately submit his appeal for reconsideration of the verdict.

The anti-graft court yesterday morning convicted Estrada of plunder but acquitted of perjury after a 6-year trial. The penalty is reclusion perpetua and all the accessory civil penalties provided and his perpetual and absolute disqualification from seeking any public office.

Reports indicate that pending any motion for legal remedies from Estrada's legal panel, the Court ordered the former president's continued detention in Tanay, Rizal.

Lobregat is confident that Estrada's camp is ready and prepared to undertake the necessary legal remedies. Before the conviction yesterday, the mayor, by chance, was with Estrada's son Jayvee on a plane from Davao to Manila last week where he was able to inquire about the family's expectations about the verdict.

Estrada, Lobregat said, has also helped Zamboanga City a lot specifically in the restoration of the concreting project of a portion of the Zamboanga-Pagadian highway while he was in power a few years ago. The said project was already withdrawn by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the institution financing the project but Estrada's intervention the same was restored.

"We are praying for the former president and at the same time hoping that the appeal (for reconsideration of the decision) will be filed immediately", the mayor said.

The plunder charges were filed on grounds that Estrada received bribes and kickbacks while in office. The perjury case was allegedly due to false declaration of assets.

The Sandiganbayan also ordered the forfeiture of the P542 million inclusive of interest deposited under the Erap Muslim Faith Foundation, P189 Million inclusive of interest deposited under the Jose Velarde account and the real property in New Manila known as the Boracay mansion.

In the same ruling, the court acquitted Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada and lawyer Eduardo Serapio after the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt their involvement in the plunder case. (CIO/PIA ZC) [top]

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