Former President and actor Erap Estrada guilty of plunder

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"What is important is the support of the people, and they have overwhelmingly acquitted me. This is a political decision," said former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada after being found guilty of plunder charges. This photo was taken on April 4, 1999 during a prayer rally organized by El Shaddai to celebrate Easter Sunday.



Former President and movie star Joseph "Erap" Estrada was meted a guilty verdict and sentenced to "reclusion perpetua," or jail up to 40 years, on plunder charges by the Sandiganbayan.

He was found "not guilty," however, on perjury charges.

"What is important is the support of the people, and they have overwhelmingly acquitted me. This is a political decision," Estrada said after the sentence was read.

The former actor was accused of violating Republic Act No. 7080 for allegedly receiving protection money from jueteng operators; diverting tobacco excise tax shares; receiving kickbacks from a corporation on stock purchase; and maintaining a "Jose Velarde" bank account worth billions.

The penalty for crime of plunder means imprisonment from 20 years and one day to 40 years. His perjury charges stemmed from charges that he allegedly made a false declaration in his 1999 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, an Estrada ally and a lawyer, said that under the Penal Code, the six years of house arrest of Estrada at his Tanay estate will be deducted from his term of imprisonment. The ousted president will be allowed to stay in his Tanay resthouse until further notice.

The lawyers of the former President have agreed to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. They have 15 days to file the appeal.

His other co-accused, his son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and his former lawyer Edward Serapio were acquitted on plunder charges.

Additional reports by GMA News.


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