PPE Corruption Perpetrators During The COVID-19 Pandemic Deserve To Be Sentenced To Death
Two health workers rested for a while while waiting for patients in the COVID-19 isolation room of Dadi Keluarga Hospital, Ciamis Regency, West Java, Monday (14/6/2021). (Between/Adeng Bustomi/aww)

JAKARTA The investigation into the alleged corruption case in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Ministry of Health (Kemenkes) which is being carried out by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has begun to become a public concern, amid the increasing twists and turns of the case that ensnared KPK Chairman Firli Bahuri.

Firli has just been named a suspect by Polda Metro Jaya in connection with the alleged extortion case against former Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo.

At the same time, the anti-rusuah commission continues to investigate cases of alleged PPE corruption during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Ministry of Health in the 2020-2022 period. The latest news states that the KPK has searched several locations related to this case.

"The search locations include the BNPB office, the Ministry of Health's Health Crisis Headquarters, one of the rooms at the LKPP Office and the residences of the parties designated as suspects," said KPK spokesman Ali Fikri, Wednesday, September 22, 2023, as quoted by Tempo.

The KPK claimed to have pocketed five suspects. But what is the public's question now, will the death penalty be handed down to the suspect who has harmed the country hundreds of billions in the midst of a disaster?

The corruption case that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic did not just happen this time. We certainly remember when the KPK uncovered the pandemic social assistance fund (bansos) corruption case in the areas of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi (Jabotabek) which was revealed in 2020.

Juliari Peter Batubara, who during the COVID-19 pandemic served as Minister of Social Affairs, received bribes of more than Rp32 billion from partners providing social assistance at the Ministry of Social Affairs. The social assistance ration, which should be fully received by residents, was engulfed in each package.

Finally, the former PDIP politician was sentenced to 12 years in prison and a fine of 500 million, subsidiary to six months in prison. The judge also sentenced Juliari to pay compensation of Rp. 14.5 billion, subsidiary to 2 years in prison and revocation of political rights in the form of being elected in public office for four years after the defendant served his main sentence.

The sentence handed down by the Panel of Judges at the Corruption Court (Tipikor) did not necessarily satisfy the public. Feelings of anger because there is a figure who has the heart to lend social assistance funds in the midst of the difficulty of the residents making the public wonder why Juliari was not given the death penalty even though he was considered "qualified" for that.

This refers to Article 2 paragraph (2) of Law Number 31 of 1999 concerning the Eradication of Corruption Crimes (UU Corruption) asserting that criminal acts of corruption committed under certain circumstances, the death penalty can be imposed.

The situation that can be used as a criminal offense for perpetrators of criminal acts of corruption is if the crime is committed against funds intended for handling dangerous situations, national natural disasters, overcoming the consequences of social unrest in dealing with the economic and monetary crisis, and repeating corruption.

President Joko Widodo also mentioned the death penalty for corruptors on the commemoration of the anti-corruption day on December 9, 2019. At that time, Jokowi answered a question from a student at SMKN 57 Jakarta regarding the possibility of being a corruptor being sentenced to death.

"If natural disaster corruption is possible. For example, if there is an earthquake, tsunami in Aceh or in NTB, we have a budget for disaster management, the money is corrupted, it can be (suggested by the death penalty)," said Jokowi at the time.

Based on records, the perpetrators of corruption in Indonesia have never been sentenced to death. However, quoting Tempo, so far there have been two perpetrators of corruption who have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

They are Brigadier General Teddy Hernayadi who was found guilty of corruption in the procurement of defense equipment at the Ministry of Defense and former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court (MK) Akil Mochtar who was found guilty of receiving gifts and money laundering crimes related to regional election disputes at the Constitutional Court.

Meanwhile, the death penalty has so far only been imposed on narcotics cases, premeditated murder, sexual violence, and terrorism.

Criminal law observer Masykur Isnan regrets the fact that the death penalty is not given to suspects in corruption cases during a pandemic. In fact, this is in accordance with existing laws.

"The weight of the death penalty is given to certain conditions, for example during natural disasters or dangerous situations, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic yesterday," Masykur Isnan told VOI.

"Faktualnya jaksa seperti tidak serius atau pihak KPK belum serius menjadikan itu sebagai sanksi utama," imbuhnya.

In fact, according to Masykur Isnan, corruption crimes are no lighter than other crimes such as drug dealers or terrorism.

"Out of this context, the death penalty for corruption cases has not occurred. In fact, drugs, corruption and terrorists are as depraved as they are," said Masykur Isnan.

"The impact (corruption) on society, social, cultural, and state is very heavy. But unfortunately this is not prioritized," he concluded.

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