Jinggoy Estrada hopes for acquittal by February 2019

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada eyes an acquittal in the next two months, following the not-guilty verdict handed down to his friend Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., a fellow accused in the controversial pork barrel scam.

Estrada, who's facing plunder and graft charges at the Sandiganbayan, revealed to CNN Philippines Friday that his camp may soon file a demurrer to evidence, or a motion to dismiss a case for lack of sufficient evidence.

"Probably early next year we'll file a demurrer to evidence. If the court will grant the demurrer to evidence then that's already tantamount to acquittal," Estrada said.

When asked if he expects the anti-graft court to reach this decision before the campaign season which starts February 2019, Estrada said, "Well, I hope so."

Both Estrada and Revilla are seeking a Senate comeback in the 2019 elections.

"I will leave my fate with the Sandiganbayan, but it's a big boost that my friend (former) Sen. Revilla was acquitted early this morning and I hope to follow suit," Estrada said.

The Sandiganbayan's first division on Friday ruled that there is "not a single direct evidence" that proved that Revilla pocketed ₱P224.5 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also known as pork barrel or funds set aside for lawmakers' projects. Revilla walked free Friday night after more than four years in detention after posting bail on his 16 other graft cases.

Meanwhile, Estrada was temporarily released in September 2017 after the Sandiganbayan allowed him to post a ₱1-million bail for his plunder and graft charges. He was neighbors with Revilla at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center since 2014, accused of receiving ₱183 million in kickbacks from his PDAF.

When he filed his certificate of candidacy in October, Estrada said he was confident his alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam would not affect his chances to win as senator in the 2019 elections.

"The first time I ran for senator in 2004 I also have a pending plunder case which has not been resolved by the courts. It did not affect me since I won during the 2004 elections. And I don't think it will affect now," Estrada told reporters at the Commission on Elections.

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, out on bail too on cases involving the PDAF scam, is also gunning for a Senate seat.

Estrada, Revilla, and Enrile are implicated in the PDAF scheme supposedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who was convicted of plunder in her case with Revilla. She is accused of funnelling ₱10 billion of lawmakers' funds into bogus nongovernment organizations.