EX-SENATOR Jinggoy Estrada on Sunday afternoon was brought to the San Juan City police headquarters for alleged violation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine but was freed without any charges and was merely given a stern warning by the Eastern Police District leadership he would if he commits the same offense, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
A powerhouse group immediately rushed to the San Juan City police station shortly after the former senator heeded the advice of the local police to go with them to shed light on the violation of quarantine protocols raised against him by the camp of Mayor Francis Zamora.
They include his father, former President and Manila City Mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada, wife Mrs. Precy Estrada, daughter Janella, a former San Juan City vice mayor who lost the mayoralty race to Zamora in May 2019 and Sen. Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr.
Inside the San Juan police headquarters, EPD director, Brigadier General Johnson C. Almazan asked the ex-senator to explain why he has no city hall permit to distribute food to poor San Juan residents as well as the social distancing issue and the handling of the food they were distributing.
After being ‘sternly warned’ by Almazan that a repetition of the same violation would be dealt accordingly, Estrada was released without any charges for violation of the ECQ around 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
The move caught many by surprise since Brig. Gen. Almazan early morning Sunday ordered the San Juan City police to prepare to ‘arrest and charge’ ex-Sen. Estrada if he will be monitored leading the unauthorized food distribution in the city,
Philippine National Police spokesman, Brig. Gen. Bernard M. Banac defended the EPD move on Estrada and said the EPD leadership merely showed maximum tolerance and concern for poor people affected by the lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 virus.
“Ex-Sen. Estrada was not arrested and charged and instead was only given a stern warning that he should coordinate similar action with the San Juan City government and fully comply with the ECQ protocols,” said Banac.
A San Juan City Police report sent to the National Capital Region Police Office said members of the EPD District Mobile Force Battalion, the EPD District Reaction Standby Support Force and the local police accosted the former lawmaker in Barangay Salapan where he was leading the distribution of milkfish to local residents around 4:45 in the afternoon.
Estrada was asked to go to the local police headquarters amid charges he had ‘induced’ residents of Bgy. Salapan to gather in mass along A. Luna Street corner J. Ruiz St. which is considered a public place without observing social or physical distancing.
The local police seized seven boxes of milkfish being distributed by the group of Estrada.
The Journal Group earlier reported that Mayor Zamora has resented the distribution of relief goods for the ‘poorest of the poor’ in the city by Estrada’s group as they were violating ECQ rules and are not coordinating with the city government.
Journal Group sources said that Mayor Zamora sought the help of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año in accosting the group of Estrada since it would become a ‘highly-politicized matter’ in the event he orders his men to go after the supposed ECQ violations being committed by Estrada’s group.
The mayor also feared that such a move may trigger possible clashes between Estrada’s supporters and that of the city hall.
Initially, EPD officials said they can accost ex-Sen. Estrada and his men once they are found distributing food in San Juan since they are not Authorized People Outside of Residence or APORs under the rules issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Highly-Infectious Diseases.
The Estrada camp however said that their effort to care for the poor in San Juan has been mixed with politics.