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Pardon the politics | Inquirer Opinion

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Pardon the politics


Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:18 AM | Friday, January 23rd, 2015

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The pardon that Joseph Estrada received from then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was so
deliberately vague that the Supreme Court would have been hard-pressed to rule otherwise.
But why would a sitting president who wields the absolute power of mercy over a jailed convict
even negotiate the terms of her forgiveness? Because by then, her legitimacy had so suffered
from scandal after scandal, from the Garci tapes to the ZTE deal, that by the time Estrada was
convicted, she must have hoped that by letting him go free, she would receive the blessings of
St. Francis prayer: It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
Recall that in 2001, soon after Estrada was ousted from the presidency through People Power
protests, he was charged with plunder at the Sandiganbayan. In 2007, he was found guilty and
sentenced to a prison term with the additional penalty of perpetual disqualification from
public office. A month later, he applied for full, free and unconditional pardon from Arroyo,
and within days he got it. The other day, the Supreme Court held that that pardon was
absolute, thereby restoring [Estradas] qualifications to stand as candidate in the last
mayoralty elections.
Judge for yourself: Whereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has been under detention for six and a
half years; whereas, [he] has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or
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February 06

Who bl
Justo T
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office I hereby grant executive clemency to Joseph Ejercito Estrada, convicted by the
Sandiganbayan of plunder and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby restored
to his civil and political rights.
This was carefully crafted to tiptoe around the issue of whether Estrada can seek public office
againthat is to say, whether the punishment of perpetual disqualification remained despite
the pardon. After all, that is what the Revised Penal Code says: A pardon does not work the
restoration of the right to hold public office unless such rights be expressly restored by the
terms of the pardon.
But on the other hand, Arroyo did give an unconditional pardon, no ifs or buts about it (I
hereby grant executive clemency). Under the Revised Penal Code, the effect of that pardon
is the total extinction of criminal liability. In addition to that, she stated expressly that Estrada
was thus restored to his civil and political rights. Since his right to run for public office was
the only such right that he lost by virtue of his conviction, that was as express a restoration of
right as one can find in the terms of a pardon. That presumably was the reading of 13 justices
as against the three dissenting members of the high court.

A papa

February 05

Sterling

Neither does the phrase that Estrada ha[d] publicly committed to no longer seek any elective
position or office make the pardon any less unconditional. Those words appear in a
preambular paragraph and are not part of the operative clause of the pardon. Moreover, the
disavowal of public office was not a promise made by Estrada to Arroyo, but was a mere

Thanat
Mamas

recitation of newspaper information that cannot detract from the categorical language of the
operative clause.
Which makes us wonder. At that stage, Estrada had already been convicted. Though he had
announced that he would appeal the verdict, Arroyos pardon was his quickest and most
realistic way out of prison. He was at her mercy. Then why did she have to resort to legal
sleight of hand, as if to say he is pardoned and his political rights are restored, but hey, dont
worry, hes not planning to run for office anyway?
Moreover, remember that Estradas 2013 run for Manila mayor was not his first time to test the
nature of the pardon. He actually ran for president in 2010, and was the runner-up to the
winner, Benigno S. Aquino III. Even then, he already faced this eligibility issue on his perpetual
disqualification, but there was yet another legal obstacle: the no reelection rule (The
President shall not be eligible for any reelection). Yet no court dared stop him in 2010even
the Supreme Court wouldnt stop him thenand he garnered almost 10 million votes (26
percent of the total) as against 15 million votes (42 percent) for Mr. Aquino.
Ten million Filipino wanted him to become president in 2010. Despite a plunder conviction.
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Despite a constitutional disqualification against reelection. Despite a deliberately malleable


pardon. And now he is the mayor of Manila.
Indeed, Estrada tests the limits of Philippine democracy, and it is hard to guess how long it will
take for the Filipino voter to vote wisely, or, until then, whether our courts will have the
gumption to defy the political winds.

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Norman Fernandez

12 days ago

A simple quid pro quo between two thieves. It would have been acceptable if they are just
common thieves, but what makes it sickening is that they were both ex-presidents of our
country.
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Reply Share

Bing Garcia

13 days ago

The SC is stupid. Too legalistic.

Reply Share

Juan Barili

13 days ago

The entire issue is moot since the SC approved of GMA's second term of presidency.
1

Reply Share

Jao Romero

13 days ago

election itself extinguishes his culpability. by the power of the vote, the people give their
pardon, which is a more powerful pardon than any sitting president can give.
the rest are just semantics.

Reply Share

AguinaldoIsNotAHero

13 days ago

"The President shall not be eligible for any reelection." -Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987
Constitution
The Constitution was VERY CLEAR and UNAMBIGUOUS: "for ANY reelection". It didn't
just say "for reelection". Though I didn't care then in 2010 whether he runs or not, because
I am very sure that he will lose anyway and his candidacy will be a thorn to Manny Villar,
he should not have been allowed to do so in the first place.

Reply Share

Bing Garcia

13 days ago

Reject corruption. Reject Binay and Estrada.


JVV123

Reply Share

13 days ago

Philippine politicians are perceived as highly corrupt or easily corruptible. Election results
in the country are indiscrminately influenced by this insidious practice and the most
corrupt, the most moneyed and the most powerful politician can almost guarantee his or
her victory in the polls. Precisely, why the Aguinaldo doctrine or election victory is not the
best yardstick for a person's credibility or honesty.


JVV123

Most

Reply Share

13 days ago

If you combine Philippines politics and political maturity, you have an oxymoron. Every
ordinary, run-of-a mill Juan de la Cruz has no problem understanding Joseph Estrada, the
Ex-President, convicted plunderer, pardoned by by a corrupt Arroyo, granted in a country
with a strong culture of corruption and the conclusion would easily be , absolute
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with a strong culture of corruption and
the conclusion would easily be , absolute
disqualification. It is not ony the correct conclusion based on the given circumstance but
the best solution for the country's sake. Why the supposedly brilliant justices validated the
ignominous process is puzzlng and Juan de la Cruz is left scratching his head.

R Blues

Reply Share

13 days ago

we are simply a bunch of idiots when it comes to electing leaders


1

Reply Share

amelius23

13 days ago

If the supreme court have decided on Erap's disqualification when he run for the
presidency in 2010 whether in favor or nor for his disqualification, the problem of Erap's
winning the 2013 mayoral candidacy for Manila could have been not an issue. But now
that the supreme court have decided in Erap's favor for the 2013 disqualification case, it
looks like supreme court have absolved Erap's running in 2010 and 2013. But what is still
troubling us all is this, Quote" Judge for yourself: Whereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has
been under detention for six and a half years; whereas, [HE] HAS PUBLICLY
COMMITTED TO NO LONGER SEEK ANY ELECTIVE POSITION OR OFFICE I
hereby grant executive clemency to Joseph Ejercito Estrada, convicted by the
Sandiganbayan of plunder and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby
restored to his civil and political rights.Unquote. I am no lawyer or judge but up to now it is
still reverberating on my mind if how did the supreme court justices interpreted in their
honest frame of mind,,,HE] HAS PUBLICLY COMMITTED TO NO LONGER SEEK ANY
ELECTIVE POSITION OR OFFICE. Alas!! Were we again surcharged by the supposed
to be separate power that be!! The only premise I can surmise upon the latest SC
decision was, when Erap was handed the decision when he was pardoned, he did not
raised his right hand and took an oath to follow literally what was written as the conditions
of conditional or absolute pardon, in jai alai......MALA?
2

Reply Share

Kurapt Ako

kishbuff

Fertility
Obando

13 days ago

therefore, the law should be interpreted "not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that
giveth life." (2 Cor 3:6). Scripture ang basis ng statutory construction na eyan! eh! ang
problemang iyan ay one crook pardoning another crook, to keep on their crooked ways!
1

News

Shopp
taxes

Reply Share

13 days ago

ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES!


1
swave

Reply Share

13 days ago

Here you go falks.. Stupid laws made by stupid people..


2

Reply Share

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fighter?

14 days ago

Image in wanting.
The Supreme Court still has a long way of projecting itself as fully independent and MUST
put the interest of JUSTICE where it is necessary by correct and timely judicial processes
(and not political considerations) into the consciousness of everybody if it wants to be fully
respected again.
In some sense, we can give credit to CJ Sereno for standing up to the present
dispensation re the DAP, although not fully settled yet if some really misuse that fund.
As for the case of ERAP though before is convicted for plunder and now given a sort of
vindication, it was a remedial decision to the ineptness of the Government in general and
Comelec in particular - why did they allow him to run as Prez in 2009 and then as Mayor
later in Manila?
Well, it's good that people today have better access to information and respond to various
fora like this blogging; we have to be better informed and make our voices heard so that
any agency in Public or Private may know the pulse of the people in wanting to crop their
image.
9

jaciagar

Reply Share

14 days ago

Yes, indeed . How long would it take for the Filipino voter to learn? How long till the Filipino
becomes less of an idiot especially with the Filipino showbiz industry contirbuting to the
idiotization of the Filipino? Honesty & integrity begin at home as well as corruption. Let the
children learn about good moral values at home & the media especially TV would be a
great help. Now even the Boy Scouts have been corrupted. May God help us.
11

Reply Share

Binay Duwanakaw

14 days ago

We were duped.
GMA knew something then, and crafted all the legal terminologies to make it happen.
Such criminal minds: GMA - Erap - Binay. Us God fearing people can only imagine how
they think.
9

Reply Share

ODAPAIN > Binay Duwanakaw

13 days ago

Winning the ELECTIONS is all they think about ...


1
syano

Reply Share

14 days ago

Yup! testing democracy. testing whether democracy can also be for stupids, whether it
can also be for the convicts, for the miscreant, the juveniles, the poor and the
marginalized. After all, democracy is only for the rich? the intelligent? the good-

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marginalized. After all, democracy is only for the rich? the intelligent? the goodintentioned? hahaha, yes, testing democracy indeed!
3

Reply Share

Dan Santos

14 days ago

sad day for our justice system. does this then mean that we can use semantics to get
what we want? Erap has publicly said he will not run for any office. It was in the 'whereas'
of the pardon.
3

Reply Share

Wilfredo Torres

14 days ago

All these hidden deals and political compromises is making a mockery of our laws. The
true victims are the Filipino people who more often than not is unaware of the secret
details behind the deals made between Erap & GMA so that they don't end up in jail "for
life".
12

Reply Share

Jane Tan

14 days ago

More than testing Philippine democracy, it proves Filipino stupidity.


8

Reply Share

Kurapt Ako > Jane Tan

13 days ago

gaya ng rather have a life lived like hell as long as it is run by filipinos, than a life
lived like heaven but run by americans. ergo. nacionalista party vs. liberal party,
spain vs. us.
1

Reply Share

Jane Tan > Kurapt Ako

13 days ago

I guess its something like that though I'd just say its a choice between 2
lives run by Filipinos but one is less like hell, but only a little bit.
1
virgoyap

Reply Share

14 days ago

A dark cloud is hovering over the Philippine future because of Erap and Binay.
11

ok totoy

Reply Share

14 days ago

"and he (Estrada) garnered almost 10 million votes,26 percent of the total" WOW! 10
million bobotantes. That's my beloved country, politically immature and 26 pct beyond
description.
6

Reply Share

JVV123 > ok totoy

13 days ago

Yes, the vote, the count, in fact the whole process is so unreliable, you don't know
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Yes, the vote, the count, in fact
the whole process is so unreliable, you don't know
where to begin to analyze it. Where the people bought? mesmerized? or was the
entire system manipulated. I just don't blame the people, it's the whole culture!


inquirercet

Reply Share

14 days ago

the question of his running for president is another matter. no person can become
president for more than one term. i wish the supreme court also ruled on that issue.
gloria's follies continues to hound our country to this day. that woman has doomed this
country to a never ending cycle of misery, suffering and injustice.
10

Reply Share

Kurapt Ako > inquirercet

13 days ago

you can just imagine how the lakas nucd and pmp put pressure on the system. we
can tell that from the frenzy that the bill on foi was generating. they certainly did not
want the people to know other critical issues that can dislodge their hold on power.

Reply Share

wwmm > inquirercet

13 days ago

A complete term is six years. He was unable to serve its full term. Is he entitled to
finish its term to run repeatedly for the position as the higher court deems it? He
was president for one term only, but deposed by mob forced. It is SC turn
dispensing their legal authority without prejudice to the concern. Supreme court
and mob street court engage in their convictions.
Gloria's pardon the SC legally interpreted an absolution in favor of the convicted.
Many years back in WWII Japs-Filipino collaborators were left unpunished instead
awarded to run the government rather than disqualifying them for good. Noncollaborators fully resisting the Japs were unrewarded in turn classified as the
communist group.

Reply Share

JVV123 > inquirercet

13 days ago

I agree, and percisely she should be hounded not only by the current President but
the country. So that even after Pres. Aquino's reign is over her case should be
completed for the sake of the country and as an example for all.
2

Reply Share

Kurapt Ako > inquirercet

13 days ago

how about hanging her with charges of treason with her co-conspirators.
4
AlabNgLahi

Reply Share

14 days ago

This is good. Erap will detach 5 million votes form his fellow plunderer Nognog.!
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This is good. Erap will detach 5 million
votes form his fellow plunderer Nognog.!

Reply Share

Kurapt Ako > AlabNgLahi

13 days ago

hopefully!


Jimmy Munar

Reply Share

14 days ago

So there.....!!!!!! 10 MILLION voters who are either idiots and/or stupid..????? Kawawang
Pilipinas....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8

Reply Share

satoriseeker > Jimmy Munar

14 days ago

count neal cruz as one of the 10 million.


3

Reply Share

AlzheimersC > Jimmy Munar

14 days ago

Kung hindi ka damage control o PR man ni GMA...hmmn malamang isa ka lang


gunggong na hindi nakakaintindi ng kalakaran ng politika.
1
R Blues

Reply Share

14 days ago

Until Filipino voter votes wisely?...When will this be?


SC is tainted, its moral values questionable. all they know is law, no morality...
For jinggoy sake, Erap will gun for presidency. Heck, who cares about the poor and
country....
8

Reply Share

Kurapt Ako > R Blues

13 days ago

how about an electoral college system?


1
AllaMo

Reply Share

14 days ago

LOL! This ed-op piece, specially the last paragraph, is as near as onanism gets to
procreation.


Fulpol

Reply Share

14 days ago

Paradise lost, paradise regain..


Supreme Court helped in the removal of Erap as President (very political move of SC)..
now the Supreme Court wants to correct herself (just interpreting the pardon)..
you think now that your democracy is messed up.. you morons, if you only allow Erap to
finished his term as President.. that is what the democracy wants..
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finished his term as President.. that is what the democracy wants..


now, you morons get the bad karma.. GMA was your bad karma.. BS Aquino III is your bad
karma..
2

Reply Share

Patrick R > Fulpol

14 days ago

Yes, we need more majjong, petrus and blue label. That's good for karma. May
balato naman, e.

Reply Share

mad_as_Hamlet

14 days ago

*****
So, in simple summation, GMA tried to fool the people by pardoning Estrada who fooled
GMA into pardoning him by declaring he'll never run even for the post of a barangay
kagawad, who then fooled the people to vote for him again for president, then for mayor of
Manila, and who ultimately fooled 11 Justices into declaring that GMA was not a fool and
was never fooled by Estrada who never fooled the people.
The petitioner in that SC case has announced that she is no longer filing a motion to
change the minds of the 11 Justices. They won't, she says. We should respect her
decision. But, as a last service to the nation before she throws in the towel, I hope she
files instead a motion for clarification to have the Supreme Court declare who among the
three---GMA, the people who voted for Estrada, and the 11 Justices---is the biggest fool.
Anyway it won't affect the decision, but only give the credit where it is due,
the petitioner having graciously conceded that only fools don't change their minds.
--17

Reply Share

Kurapt Ako > mad_as_Hamlet

13 days ago

Yup, she was forced to give the pardon an absolute interpretation. \i wish we can
read the SC decision and the arguments. why did they interpret it as absolute. that
is a good issue to flay.
1
makatao63

Reply Share

14 days ago

SC is a flip flopper! what would you expect...


5

Reply Share

June Bamba

14 days ago

the supreme court is always right even if it is wrong. i will have to grudgingly accept the sc
decision if only to prevent ex mayor lim from regaining his former post for he is
undoubtedly the worst mayor of manila. remember his (lim) incompetence during the
luneta hostage crisis which cost the lives of 8 hong kongers where he ordered the arrest
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of the brother of the hostage taker causing panic and mental imbalance to the latter and
the rest is a morbid history. fyi, this hostage taker mendoza is the one who arrested the
son of ex mayor lim , manny lim, in a drug buy bus .. see the connection and u will realize
that this mendoza is a victim of injustice
1

Reply Share

JVV123 > June Bamba

13 days ago

Too bad, the Manila election was based on who was the lesser evil between Lim
and Estrada.
1

Reply Share

Kurapt Ako > June Bamba

13 days ago

a law student who has finished 2 years of the fundamental laws is good enough to
butt heads with even the SC Chief. they cannot disbar him. he is not one of them.
1

batangpaslit

Reply Share

14 days ago

I thought, on matters of law the Supreme Court decision is final?

Reply Share

Kurapt Ako > batangpaslit

13 days ago

not in some case. in impeachment cases, for example, unless there is really a
gruesome violation of good sense and reason, fairness, and common sense, it is
only the Senate that has jurisdiction. like when JPE appealed to the SC not to
entertain cases of certiorari questioning the senate decision on Corona. it can
result in a deadlock if the SC should decide otherwise. Of course we know that the
Senate received hundreds of millions from Noy as payola, and JPE could have
threatened to liquidate the SC justices.

Reply Share

JVV123 > batangpaslit

13 days ago

But in a worst situation, the court of public opinion is the final arbiter, however, in a
tolerant or submissive society it is difficult to come about.
1

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