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

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 17) — Three ex-Senators — all slapped with graft and plunder charges — are seeking a return to the political scene.

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla are all eyeing a comeback to the upper chamber and have filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) for the 2019 midterm polls.

The three former lawmakers were charged with graft and plunder back in 2014 for alleged involvement in the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. They were implicated by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, who was accused of funneling ₱10 billion of lawmakers' funds into bogus nongovernment organizations.

Enrile, 94, told CNN Philippines Tuesday that age is but a number, as he remains "physically and mentally fit" to serve the public if elected.

The veteran official also shrugged off this past controversy, saying he is "innocent until proven guilty" in the pork barrel scam case.

Enrile was ordered arrested in 2014 for his supposed links to scam. In 2015, the Supreme Court allowed him to post bail.

READ: Enrile forgets his political party, forced to personally refile Senate candidacy

Estrada, for his part, remains confident that he'll be elected despite the pending raps against him. The former Senator, who filed his COC on Tuesday, said that if he had done it before, then he can do it again.

"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," said Estrada, who will be running under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino party.

Estrada was detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in 2014 for allegedly receiving ₱183 million in kickbacks from his PDAF or the funds set aside for lawmakers' projects.

He was temporarily released in September 2017 after the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan allowed him to post a ₱1-million bail for the plunder and graft charges.

Revilla, the remaining solon detained, also filed his candidacy on Wednesday through his wife Bacoor, Cavite Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla.

His family hopes that the former Senator will be out of detention by the end of the year, giving him ample time to campaign.

"We are waiting for the decision of the court," Mercado-Revilla told CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday.

"Hopefully, we are all praying that the decision will be in favor of Sen. Bong, that he will soon be free and he will be campaigning for his senatorial bid."

Revilla will be running under the banner of Lakas-CMD, the party of former President-turned-House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

READ: Bong Revilla's family hopes for his release from detention in time for Senate campaign

In response, Liberal Party President and Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said the former solons' bid for reelection shows "the level of disrespect and cynicism" in the country's democracy and electoral system.

CNN Philippines' Alyssa Rola, Eimor Santos, and Regine Cabato contributed to this report.