By Hannah Torregoza
Reelectionist Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Tuesday expressed his belief that the plunder case that was filed against his father, former President and now Manila City Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada was more of a political issue than it was legal.
Ejercito made the statement in an interview over ANC Headstart where he clarified his position supporting the imposition of the death penalty on convicted plunderers during the “Harapan 2019: the ABS-CBN Senatorial Town Hall Debate.”
His father was found guilty of plunder in 2007 but was pardoned by his successor, then President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“Well, I think the case of my father is really more political than legal. We know for a fact there was an uprising, there was a power grab that happened,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito was referring to the 2001 political uprising after his father’s aborted impeachment trial where he was charged with plunder and perjury. The charges were filed against him at the Sandiganbayan. Arroyo, who was then vice president, succeeded him as president.
“So that is history. Let us just let history be the judge. And I think history will be a little bit fair on him as it was more of political than legal in his case,” he said.
Ejercito recalled also that no member of the Estrada Cabinet or any other of his father’s officials were accused of corruption or involved in any issue.
“When they reviewed the contracts, agreements…there was nothing onerous when it comes to the use of government funds. There was nothing onerous and there was no presentation of onerous contracts or disadvantageous contracts signed by my father. So it was more political,” he pointed out.
Asked about the plunder case of his brother Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Ejercito refused to comment on the case saying his brother’s case is still pending before the courts.
Estrada is accused of pocketing P183 million in kickbacks from fake projects under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam but is already out on bail and is seeking another six-year term in the Senate in the upcoming May 2019 elections.
“It’s still an ongoing case; I don’t want to comment on that because it is still ongoing. He might take it against me again,” Ejercito said, admitting that there is still friction between them.
Nevertheless, he said, he is one to stand up on his principles given the mandate given to him by the Filipino people.
“I value my relationship with my family, but I was also given the mandate by the Filipino people who gave me the trust and confidence and expect me to rise up to the position, to stand up on my principles and position,” he said.
“People sometimes presume I’m always alluding to him (Estrada), but no, I was given the mandate, and I must stand on my principles to talk on issues and what I believe in,” Ejercito said.