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PHILIPPINES: Estrada's pardon honor among thieves

by AKBAYAN & SANLAKAS Friday, Nov. 23, 2007 at 5:08 AM

AKBAYAN (Citizens' Action Party) condemned the granting of executive clemency for former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), saying that it reflects not national unity but honor among thieves.

plunderer_erap-estrada_gloria-arroyo_imelda-marcos.jpg, image/jpeg, 513x231

"She treats justice like a mere transaction among thieves. Who else but the most incorrigible of thieves who would not hesitate to do a shameless act like this? This mockery of justice is unpardonable," Rep. Hontiveros said.

"This act normalizes corruption, sending a wrong message to the youth and other public officials," Rep. Hontiveros added. "Who else is she willing to forgive? The Marcoses?"

She added that releasing Estrada is an ultimate betrayal of People Power. "We can still hold her accountable for Hello Garci, bribery, and corruption, but what could reverse this act? This damage cannot be undone," Rep. Hontiveros said, adding that Estrada's conviction has proven that high officials could be held accountable for their acts.

"Our laws against corruption and abuse by high officials are for naught. What's the use of having the likes of Joc-Joc Bolante, Nani Perez, Benjamin Abalos and Virgilio Garcillano if they would just be granted executive clemency? Indeed, pardon for Estrada means that other acts of corruption, including those committed by the current administration, are forgivable," she said.

"Executive clemency undermines the rule of law. In one swift act, she demolished the integrity and credibility of our anti-corruption institutions. There is no doubt that she has done this to break the growing opposition against her administration," Rep. Hontiveros said. "Like the Glorietta blast, this political bomb, which caught many by surprise, is meant to divert the attention of public from the National Broadband Network (NBN) controversy and allegations of bribery in Malacanang (Presidential Palace)."

AKBAYAN, one of the groups that spearheaded Estrada's ouster, said that GMA's betrayal would not be forgotten. "We will hold her accountable for this," Rep. Hontiveros vowed.


SANLAKAS: GMA does the unpardonable by granting Erap Estrada executive clemency following a string of controversies that rocked her administration anew.

The grant of pardon effectively writes off Erap's criminal liability and, depending on the terms of the pardon, may reverse the effects of the civil interdiction imposed by the Sandiganbayan (Ombudsman) when it convicted the former president with plunder.

Erap, hence, walks free.

Whatever happened in 2001 is consequently declared a monumental historical glitch. The issue of corruption that led to Erap's ouster in 2001 is now muted by GMA's grant of pardon. Not only that, the pardon diverts us from the issues against GMA that have piled up since the Hello Garci scandal. It also attempts to win over Erap and his loyal stalwarts what with the growing rift in GMA's side of the fence.

Political survival as a motive reeks from GMA's executive gesture.

But instead of the expected tactical gain, GMA is in for further polarization even from within her ranks. In her effort to pursue "reconciliation", she has instead alienated herself from her most avid followers and supporters. FVR calls the pardon a "terrible calamity" to the people. Chavit Singson vowed to bolt the GMA camp if pardon were to be granted.

Closure to the country's political crisis remains elusive.

GMA's audacity to ruffle the fabric of the justice system in the country is a telling sign of the lengths she is willing to go to if only to remain in the reins of political power.

If anything, the recent development in our political landscape showed GMA's true color. She could not possible be the lesser evil as staunchly promoted by her minions in 2001 at the height of the campaign against Erap or in 2004 during the electoral campaign for the presidency. With her pardoning of Erap, GMA proved herself an equivalent of the deposed president, if not, the greater of the evils we sought to avoid.

What we should understand is that this is not only between Erap and GMA. Executive clemency as exercised by the President is an act in behalf of the state.. The pardon granted by GMA was indeed done in the name of the Filipino people. It is in a way saying that Erap's plunder of the country's wealth has been forgiven by the people.

While in the past, issues of corruption were left to oblivion, now not only do we choose to forget Erap's criminal offense by GMA's act of pardon, we choose to officially forgive him even lacking admission of guilt.

GMA, herself neck-deep in allegations of corruption and the unresolved issue on her legitimacy as president, made the choice for us.

To "simply blink at the brazenness of the whole thing and move on" would be to confer legitimacy to GMA's decision.

SANLAKAS stands steadfast to its declaration in 2001: The ouster of Erap is the people's will. Gloria is NOT the people's choice.

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.. Hence, we are duty-bound to respond to the call of the times. And like in 2001, the choice is ours.

Related article: Clemency for Erap - An Efficiently Wasted Opportunity

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