Thursday, July 05, 2007

President Estrada: Pardon or Amnesty No Deal

It’s not a surprise why Mrs. Gloria Arroyo is interfering with anti-graft court’s business. She has prostituted government institutions, the Roman Catholic Church and religious sect through bribery, horse trading and patronage for the sake of political survival. Malacanang mafia’s dirty hands are all over the place. The political trial of the century is a dismal flop.

The anti-graft court, Sandiganbayan Special Division was exclusively created to try and convict ousted President Joseph Estrada. The plunder case is weak for guilty verdict and goes after a lesser crime. The anti-graft court will convict Erap for falsification of Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) in a face-saving act by the government. Mistrial is another longshot alternative. The principle of equal justice under law is elusive in the Philippines’ justice system.

Manila Times Friday, July 06, 2007

Estrada won’t accept pardon

By Efren L. Danao, Senior Reporter

Former President Joseph Estrada will not accept a pardon by President Arroyo or apply for amnesty if he is convicted by the Sandiganbayan for plunder, his son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said Thursday.

In a press conference at the Manila Hotel, Senator Estrada and other opposition leaders were incensed at what they perceived to be the imminent conviction of the former President “in accordance with the wishes of Mrs. Arroyo.”

“Clemency or amnesty is not acceptable to us. There will be no deals with the Arroyo administration,” he said.

Presidential Legal Adviser Sergio Apostol had been quoted as saying that the administration might be willing to grant Estrada clemency if he is found guilty.

Jinggoy, who is co-accused in the case as accessory, said they would reject any offer of clemency.

“When we were still detained at Veterans Memorial Hospital, Mike Defensor talked about clemency. We did not accept it,” he said.

He added that amnesty is granted only to those who were enemies of the state who would apply for it.

“We are not enemies of the state,” Jinggoy said.

He declared that they would exhaust all legal remedies available, including an appeal for reconsideration, if the verdict is guilty. At the same time, he hinted of possible violence if such a verdict were handed down.

“The people will not accept any conviction of Erap,” Jinggoy said.

He charged that a guilty finding would result only if there is Malacañang interference.

Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay challenged President Arroyo to deny an ABS-CBN report that she had wanted the antigraft court to convict Estrada. The report claimed that Cardinal Vidal had personally heard this from her, and that Vidal later informed Estrada about this.

The Manila Times tried to contact Vidal but he was reportedly on retreat either in Tagaytay City or at the Pope Pius IX Center in Manila and could not be reached.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro said the full-page ads in several newspapers, including The Times, were meant to condition the minds of the people about Estrada’s eventual conviction.

The ads had the headline: “Erap: Guilty or not guilty, kailangan bang may gulo?” Its body included the lines “The Court has spoken. Our duty is to uphold the rule of law. This is the way of democracy. Due process has been observed. Justice has been served. Let the rule of law prevail.”

Rodriguez, Estrada’s personal lawyer, said the sentence “The Court has spoken” indicated that the group that had taken out the ad, Mahal Kita Pilipinas, had advance knowledge of the Sandiganbayan’s verdict. He said he would file on Friday contempt charges against Mahal Kita Pilipinas before the Sandiganbayan for the advertisement.

“We would also write letters to the newspapers to give us details about the advertisements,” he added.

Rodriguez read Estrada’s statement expressing alarm and sadness over the recent developments that had “compromised the integrity of the Sandiganbayan, not through its own fault but because of the unquenchable thirst for vengeance and retribution of the current regime.”

“I can only hope that despite intense pressures from the executive branch, the honorable justices of the Sandiganbayan—President Justice Teresita de Castro and Associate Justices Francisco Villaruz and Diosdado Peralta—will continue to uphold their sacred oath to render justice without consideration for the personal sentiment of those in power,” the statement continued.

Estrada reiterated his claim of innocence of all charges leveled against him.

A civic organization, meanwhile, urged President Arroyo to junk all plans to grant executive clemency to Estrada.

Tanglaw ng Bayan spokesman Bayani Santos Jr. said the Palace announcement that the President is open to pardoning the former President sends a wrong signal and portrays a travesty of the justice system.

The group also warned that airing the planned pardon “this early could create impressions that a deal has been struck between the Palace and the Estrada group.”

Santos appealed to the President “to let justice take its normal course.”

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