'I Have Returned' - Estrada; Immediately Flown by Helicopter from NAIA to Tanay

Article excerpt

Byline: BRENDA PIQUERO TUAZON

Loi, Enrile, Loren lead welcomers at detention home

I have returned.

A much healthier and leaner former President Joseph Estrada returned from a knee operation in Hong Kong to a big gathering of loyal friends and supporters, and was immediately reunited with his family at his detention home in Tanay, Rizal.

A helicopter brought the former leader in Tanay from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, contrary to rumors that he will be flown instead to Camp Laur in Nueva Ecija, or back to his former detention quarters in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

A relieved Sen. Loi Ejercito Estrada led welcomers at his husbands detention home where cheering and teary-eyed relatives and loyal friends are also present.

Among the well-wishers were Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, former Sen. Loren Legarda and members of the Estrada Cabinet.

Lighter by at least 18 pounds, Estrada arrived with son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and a squad of security escorts from the Philippine National Police in a delayed flight on board a Philippine Airlines jet from a two-week medical stay at the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital.

Estrada was immediately taken to a waiting car then to Villamor Air Base where a helicopter flew him to Tanay, 68 kilometers southeast of Manila.

A scheduled foreign and local news conference at the airport upon Estradas arrival was cancelled by government authorities at the last minute.

In Tanay, there was a commotion when PNP men barred family members, friends and supporters earlier cleared to enter the venue and welcome Estrada.

A visibly upset Senator Loi Estrada appealed to the hundreds of policemen stationed at the gate to allow her guests to enter the Estrada resthouse, saying she had earlier secured authority from Dir. Gen. Edgar Aglipay, chief of the PNP.

"What have our friends done? They are here to welcome my husband after praying for his successful surgery and we are all just grateful to God that he will finally come home safe?"

An irate Enrile argued that the resthouse is not a prison jail, but a detention place that happens to be the property of the Estradas.

"Being a private property, nobody has the right to stop anybody from welcoming the owner who had just undergone a critical total knee replacement surgery."

After almost an hour of waiting at the gate where major television networks set up camp since early yesterday, the police finally allowed them entry.

Estrada asked to be driven to the gate where he was mobbed by the big crowd which had waited for hours.

"I promised I shall return, and I have returned," he told them.

Chavit welcomes Eraps return

Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson of Ilocos Sur said yesterday he was glad to learn that former President Joseph Estrada is finally back home.

"I am very happy that former President Joseph Estrada is now back in the country because if he did not return, he will only subject himself to shame in the eyes of the Filipino people.

"Although hes back, it doesnt mean that he did not plan to escape. I want to emphasize that if we did not object about his plans of leaving the country, I am very sure that by now, he could have been to China. Now that hes back, I hope that he will cooperate in his plunder case. Then if hes not guilty, set him free.

Singson is a state witness in Estradas plunder case. …