Estrada's son surrenders to police in boost for Philippines anti-graft drive

Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, son of former Philippines president Joseph Estrada, on Monday turned himself over to police to face charges he received millions worth of kickbacks in a massive corruption scandal that has riveted the nation. -- PHOTO: AFP&nbs
Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, son of former Philippines president Joseph Estrada, on Monday turned himself over to police to face charges he received millions worth of kickbacks in a massive corruption scandal that has riveted the nation. -- PHOTO: AFP 

MANILA - Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, son of former Philippines president and now Manila mayor Joseph Estrada, on Monday turned himself over to police to face charges he received millions worth of kickbacks in a massive corruption scandal that has riveted the nation.

Estrada, 51, is accused of channeling public funds known as "pork barrels" into non-existent non-government organisations and then ploughing back 184 million pesos (S$5.24 million) into his own accounts from 2004 to 2012 through an elaborate scheme cooked up by a well-connected businesswoman, Janet Lim-Napoles, 50.

The senator is the second lawmaker to be arrested for the alleged scam that government prosecutors claim involves over 10 billion pesos in taxpayers' money.

Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla, 47, surrendered last Friday and is now detained at a special holding facility for high-profile inmates at the PNP headquarters in Quezon City.

A third senator - martial law architect and enforcer Juan Ponce-Enrile, 90 - is awaiting arrest.

Estrada has been detained before. He was held for plunder with his father in 2001, but was later acquitted and released.

The elder Estrada was convicted in 2007 but was pardoned that same year by his successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The trial of the three powerful senators has been hailed by the government of President Benigno Aquino as a "milestone" in its campaign to shed the Philippines' image as one of Asia's most corrupt states.

Mr Aquino took office in 2010 on a promise to pursue a serious campaign to combat graft, which drains over 200 billion pesos, or 1.8 per cent of economic output, from the government's coffers each year.

rdancel@sph.com.sg