SAN ANTONIO, Nueva Ecija -- Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who is eyeing a Senate comeback, remains a huge crowd-drawer in Nueva Ecija, where he was the consistent top vote-getter during the 2004 and 2010 senatorial polls.
Estrada came here on Monday and graced the town’s ‘Tambo Festival 2019" as the guest of honor and speaker upon the invitation of his party mate-close ally at the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino and kumpadre, Mayor Arvin C. Salonga, whose son Arvin Jose is a godchild of the former senator.
Speaking at the jampacked Dr. Jose Lapuz Salonga Gymnasium where a Bingo Bonanza was being held, the son of former president and now Manila Mayor Erap Estrada spoke about his “three years-vacation” while being held in detention and claimed that he and his buddy, former Senator Bong Revilla Jr., who was acquitted last December by the Sandiganbayan of plunder charges, were “being persecuted” by the previous Aquino administration.
Jinggoy, who was released on bail in September last year after three years in detention, reiterated his innocence of the plunder charges leveled against him by the Ombudsman after being accused of amassing P183-million worth of kickbacks from fake projects linked to Janet Lim-Napoles.
“Malakas ang aking loob, paulit-ulit akong titingin sa inyong mga mata at sasabihin ko sa inyo na wala akong kasalanan sa taong-bayan,” stressed Estrada, who shelled out P100,000 from his own pocket as an additional cash prize for the Bingo Bonanza being sponsored by Gov. Cherry D. Umali, husband, former Gov. Atty. Aurelio M. Umali, and Mayor Salonga at the gymnasium here.
Upon his return to the Senate, Salonga said Estrada vowed to introduce measures to increase the salaries of the public school teachers. “Kung ang mga pulis tinaasan na ng suweldo, si Senator Jinggoy naman, isusulong niya itaas ang sahod ng ating mga guro,” the mayor said.
During his speech, the former senator was also profuse in thanking the people of Nueva Ecija, for making him the highest vote-getter in the senatorial race during the 2004 and 2010 elections.
Estrada also claimed because he and Revilla were then “aspiring for a higher position,” they were being “persecuted” by the previous administration, resulting in their detention by the Ombudsman.
Estrada, who joins Revilla in the senatorial race for the 2019 midterm polls, is running under the PMP banner, his father’s political party.
This “Tambo Festival 2019” is one of the highlights celebrating the 176th Feast of San Antonio Abad (St. Anthony the Abbot), the town’s patron saint, that is organized by the fiesta committee led by its president Geoffrey Lapuz Jimenez, a Fil-American balikbayan.