Malacanang on Monday, defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to endorse former Sen. Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada Jr., and Ilocos Norte Gov. Ma. Imelda ‘Imee’ Marcos in the senatorial race for the midterm elections.
Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said that, in the case of Estrada, the former lawmaker is still presumed innocent since he has not yet been indicted for plunder due to his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
“The reason for the court’s grant of provisional liberty is anchored on the fact that the evidence of guilt is not strong. So you cannot begrudge the President for endorsing a man who is presumed to be innocent under the law; otherwise you are prejudging him,” Panelo said during a press briefing in Malacanang.
According to Panelo, the President has not received any evidence proving that Estrada was involved in corrupt activities. The Palace spokesperson added that Duterte was not yet elected as President when Estrada was accused of plunder or corruption.
“The corruption charges against the former Senator happened at the time when he has a member of Congress. It happened when the President was not yet the President,” Panelo explained.
“So there is no allegation of corruption given the President or has he received any information or evidence relative to whatever corruption as allegedly he committed,” Panelo added.
Meanwhile, Panelo admitted that Duterte is endorsing Marcos since he feel indebted to the governor for helping him during his campaign to win the Presidency in 2016.
Panelo added that Marcos is not facing any criminal charges.
“In the first place, Imee is not charged. So kung iyon nga ang nakademanda presumed lalo na itong hindi naman nakademanda. Wala naman siyang charge ng crime eh, wala,” Panelo said.