Jinggoy Estrada wants plunder to be punishable by death penalty

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 19) — Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who is accused of amassing ₱183 million in connection to the multibillion "pork barrel scam," wants plunder to be among the heinous crimes punishable by death penalty.

Estrada—who is running for senator in the May elections—said he is for the reimposition of capital punishment, but only for heinous crimes, including plunder.

"Kung magnanakaw ka sa kaban ng bayan, eh di isama na sa heinous crimes 'yan," he said on CNN Philippines' Politics As Usual.

[Translation: If you steal money from the country's funds, might as well include it in the heinous crimes]

"When I was still a senator nagbotohan kami dyan sa (we voted on) death penalty during the time of President Gloria (Arroyo). I abstained from the votation to abolish the death penalty because I still had an existing plunder case which was punishable by death," he said.

Estrada is currently out on bail for a plunder charge and 15 counts of graft. The same charges were filed against former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.

The three, who are all running for the Senate, allegedly diverted portions of their Priority Development Assistance Fund to fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks. Revilla had been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan, but was ordered to return ₱124.5 million. The plunder trial of Enrile, meanwhile, was canceled and indefinitely put on hold.

READ: 3 ex-Senators running in 2019 amid pork barrel scam case

Estrada maintained his innocence over the charges, saying he "has nothing to hide."

He said he is confident that he will be acquitted from the charges.

"I'm quite confident that I will follow suit. Actually my case is still on trial but it is already on the later stage. We already filed a formal offer of evidence and we have already commented to it, and the court will still have to rule on it," he said, adding that he hopes the ruling on his plunder case will come before the elections.

Estrada said his acquittal "will not lessen the campaign against corruption by this administration," and will only show that the three of them were just "handpicked" by the previous administration.

"There were a lot of congressmen or legislators, so to speak, who also endorsed the same thing we did. Bakit hindi nila kinasuhan 'yung mga nag-endorse din sa mga NGO? Bakit tatlo lang kami?" he said.

[Translation: Why didn't they file charges against those who also endorsed the non-government organizations? Why only the three of us?]