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Jinggoy says graft charges won’t affect his job as senator

Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday said the 11 counts of graft he is currently facing will not affect his job in the Senate.

In a television interview, Estrada was asked about how the pendency of his graft charges would impact his performance as a legislator.

“It won’t affect me in any way. In fact, when I ran in 2004, and I won, I also had a pending case before the Sandiganbayan,” he told ANC.

“It will never affect me in any way. I’ll continue my job as a senator provided.. Hindi ko iintindihin ‘yung aking ang kaso. Hindi ko iisipin ang aking kaso habang ako ay nagta-trabaho (I will not think about my cases while I'm working),” he added.

Estrada faces charges of plunder and 11 counts of graft for allegedly pocketing P183.8 million in kickbacks by allocating his pork barrel to fake non-government organizations allegedly owned by Janet Lim Napoles, the scam's alleged mastermind. He has been out on bail since 2017.

On Monday, Estrada also said his family is "unfazed" by the Supreme Court's order to continue the investigation of the bank accounts of his father, former President Joseph Estrada, and his alleged mistresses. He said the high court “can open everything.”

Wage hike

Meanwhile, Estrada, who is set to chair the Senate labor committee, said that legislating a wage increase may be possible depending if the regional wage board sees the need to do so.

“I believe so. In fact, if I find out, as chairman of the Labor committee, if we find out that the regional wage board, kung mag-act sila na kulang pa ‘yung sweldo na binibigay sa mga manggagawa (if they say that the wages of the laborers are not enough), I might be forced to legislate a wage hike,” he said.

He recalled that during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he had endorsed the P125 daily across-the-board wage hike but it was vetoed.

Estrada stressed that such a measure should be studied and be debated extensively in the Congress as it might affect the economy.

“Kapagka naging batas yun, baka mag-collapse ‘yung ating economy (the economy might collapse if that becomes a law). That’s why we have to be very, very careful right now. We have to strike a balance between the laborers and the capitalists,” he said.

“We will have to conduct several committee meetings with regard to that matter. We will form a technical working group. Hindi natin pwedeng basta-bastang ipasa ang ganyang klase ng batas (we cannot pass that into law immediately). It might really affect our economy,” he added.

The National Capital Region (NCR) and Western Visayas wage boards in May approved upward adjustments in the minimum wages of workers in their respective regions.

For NCR, the minimum wage was increased by P33, while those in Western Visayas would rise by up to P110. — RSJ, GMA News