Jinggoy Estrada confident he'll be elected again despite plunder case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 16) — Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada is confident his alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam would not affect his chances to win as senator in the 2019 elections.

Estrada, who filed his certificate of candidacy on Tuesday, said he had done it before – winning the elections despite a pending plunder case – and he can do it again this time.

"The first time I ran for senator in 2004 I also have a pending plunder case which has not been resolved by the courts. It did not affect me since I won during the 2004 elections. And I don't think it will affect now," Estrada told reporters at the Commission on Elections.

Estrada was temporarily released in September 2017 after the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan allowed him to post a ₱1-million bail for his plunder and graft charges. He was detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in 2014 for allegedly receiving ₱183 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund, also known as pork barrel or funds set aside for lawmakers' projects. He was among the solons implicated by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, who was accused of funneling ₱10 billion of lawmakers' funds into bogus nongovernment organizations.

Estrada has repeatedly denied the allegations. The Sandiganbayan, in allowing Estrada's provisional liberty said "the evidence has not strongly established accused Estrada as the main plunderer."

Sibling rivalry?

Estrada was accompanied by his parents, former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada and former Senator Loi Ejercito-Estrada when he filed his candidacy on Tuesday.

This prompted reporters to ask if the older Estrada supports him over his brother, Senator JV Ejercito, who is seeking reelection. He said he's not sure, disclosing that he has not talked to his brother "for quite some time."

He said he thought his brother would make good on the promise to give way if he decides to run in the senatorial polls.

"Three months after I was released from jail he made a statement, a public statement in the media, I think it was also published, that that if I decide to run for senator, he would make the ultimate sacrifice to withdraw from the race. So akala ko magwiwithdraw siya pero tinuloy pa rin niya yung kanyang kagustuhan (I thought he would withdraw from the race but he pushed through with what he wants)," Estrada said.

He, however, said he has no hard feelings and hopes they would both win a Senate seat.

'Prolific senator'

Estrada promised to push for pro-poor measures, similar to the "Kasambahay Law" he proposed which entitles domestic helpers to standard employee benefits, including paid leave, a set minimum wage, and coverage in insurance programs.

He said he was named "one of the most prolific senators," next to the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, and would continue to work to be considered as such if he wins a second term at Senate.

Estrada has made it to the top 12 in recent surveys.