Dec. 22, 2008
Cory seeks Estrada’s forgiveness for Edsa II
Manila-- For the first time since the coup d’etat of 2001, former President Corazon Aquino, during the book launching of ousted Speaker Jose de Venecia (JdV), yesterday publicly apologized to former President Joseph Estrada for her role in the elite-led Edsa ll revolt which saw the toppling of Estrada and his government.
Estrada did not expect a public apology from Mrs. Aquino but was nevertheless elated, saying that Aquino’s admission of the mistake made at Edsa ll was “the best Christmas gift” he received, adding that coming from President Aquino, rated by surveys as the most trusted person in the country today, the apology was “very welcome.” He also said he felt vindicated.
“It was the best Christmas gift I have ever received, especially since it came from the most trusted person in the country today.” he said.
In a brief Tribune telephone interview with Estrada, the former leader said that he had forgiven all those who had wronged him and caused his ouster.
“There was never any bitterness I held for those who joined the Edsa ll revolt. I have forgiven all of them and I never sought their apology because forgiveness comes from the heart and without seeking an apology from them (the various groups that caused his ouster from Malacanang).” He also said it is the strong who can forgive.
Aquino, during the launching of the “Global Filipino” - a biography of the former Speaker, said she was sorry for having been involved int he ouster of Estrada.
“I am one of those who feels guilty about the 2001 uprising. All of us makes mistakes. Please forgive me,” Mrs. Aquino told the guests that included a wide audience from the political spectrum at the Podium at the Ortigas Center.
The apology came after Estrada had said in his speech, “Those who attended Edsa Dos now realize that it was a big mistake, and it seems that this now includes JdV.”
She was applauded heartily by those in attendance for her public apology.
Earlier, in a speech delivered by Estrada at the book launching, he congratulated De Venecia, for finally revealing the truths about the incumbent Arroyo adminis-tration and encouraged De Venecia to write a sequel to this biography because, Estrada said, “I believe you know more.”
Estrada alos said in his speech that while he was the first victim of Malacañang’s present tenant when he was unconstitutionally ousted from power in 2001, De Venecia, seven years later, shared a similar fate when he was conspired against by his peers and unseated as Speaker.
Estrada said that he knows that writing this book took a lot of courage, considering De Venecia’s close ties with Malacañang, and said that he would support him in the former Speaker’s moral revolution.
Known for his wit, Estrada said of JdV’s book: “Believe it or not, I read this book from cover to cover. You know, when I was incarcerated, with nothing better to do, I read a lot of books...that is why I have greatly improved my good looking English,” adding that noting the significance of the book, he read all 400 pages of it which almost gave him a headache, but that he suspects De Venecia’s biography gave Malacañang a bigger headache.
He said he found himself reminiscing the different times he and the former Speaker encountered each other in politics, and while they were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, they had remained friends.
“We both stood up and fought for our convictions. I can see that JdV is a man of conviction, just like me. The only difference is that I am a certified man of conviction because I was convicted.”He advised JdV to wait his turn to become a certified man of conviction.
Mrs. Aquino applauded Estrada’s speech, saying that he gives execellent speeches.
Estrada also said that perhaps the results of the 1998 elections where JdV lost, was a blessing in disguise for the former speaker “because had he won, JdV may have been the one impeached by a conspiracy of power-hungry politicians, civil society and segments of the Church.”
He stressed that while in 2001, JdV who was among those who went to Edsa ll, Estrada said” “Today, I give JdV my full and absolute pardon. That is my exerciseof executive privilege.Those who attended the Edsa Dos (revolt) now realize that it was a big mistake and it seems that this now includes JdV.”
Estrada said both he and JdV had their high and lows of Philippine political life and that they now have the same experiences, noting that he “became the first victim of Malacañang’s present tenant when I was unconstitutionally unseated from the presidency by means of an invention called “constructive resignation”.
He quoted Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma, who said :”When the ongoing impeachment trial was unceremoniously disrupted and the issues on hand were brought to the parliament of the streets, the rule of law was set aside and the rule of force prevailed.”
Estrada pointed out that seven years later, JdV also became a victim when he was ceremoniously removed from office by the Palace.
“But it is not Malacañang that is important; it is the people. and this time, as JdV has begun to unravel the truths about the anomalies of this administration, he has earned even more respect from the millions of Filipinos who are not only hungry for food but hungry for truth, justice and honesty,” Estrada said, quoting that “perhaps, you and I can help bring about moral renewal, a moral revolution, so that we can cleanse our society, cleanse the Senate, cleanse the House of Representatives, cleanse the local government units, cleanse the Armed Forces; cleanse the National Police, cleanse the media, and and the leaders of civil society together - and not just find fault with any one sector of national society.”
“And to this, we can add: Cleanse the Comelec, the institution that deprived our people of their rightful mandate.”
Present during the book launching were Estrada, House minority leader Ronaldo Zamora, Reps. Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Rufus Rodriguez, members of the diplomatic corps including Lebanon’s consul Joseph Assad, former Sen. Kit Tatad, Former Ambassador Ernesto Maceda and former national security adviser Jose Almonte and former President Fidel Ramos among others.
Aquino, during her short speech, also thanked De Venecia for joining the groups opposed to President Arroyo even as she added in jest that she was there because she could not say no to Gina De Venecia.
“Better late than never,” Aquino told De Venecia before the audience.
She said that the people have long been waiting for De Venecia to join the opposition.
De Venecia, in an interview before the book launching said that he is forming a “rainbow coalition” that would block Mrs. Arroyo from pursuing plans of extending her term like Russion president Putin who is now Prime Minister.
“We are going to block that highway,” De Venecia said referring to Mrs. Arroyo’s alleged plan to amend the Constitution and prolong her stay in power.
Some observers present said that Mrs. Aquino’s public apology to Estrada for having made that mistake of joining Edsa ll, could mean an all-out endorsement for Estrada, should he make a bid for the presidency in 2010.
There has been a lot of speculation about Estrada running for the top post.
But the former president yesterday also aughed off the Inquirer headline quoting Sen. Loren Legarda as rejecting an Erap-Loren tandem for 2010, clarifying that he never offered Legarda to become his running mate to begin with. “I have not even declared that I will run for president, how can I say that I will run with Loren as my running mate?” Estrada said.
Estrada was quoted to have said “at the Christmas party hosted by his son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, on Friday night that he would pick Legarda as his running mate should he need to run for president in the event of the opposition’s failure to field a common candidate.”
But Estrada clarified that he only said that Legarda would make a good vice president but not that she would be his running mate.
At the same time, Estrada clarifed that he has never said nor issued any statement that he will run for president on an Erap-Binay tandem under the United Opposition flag this 2010.
“I never said that. I have not even decided, much less declared, that I will run for president so why will I say that I am running with (Makati Mayor Jejomar) Binay as my vice president in 2010?” Estrada clarified, reacting to reports that he supposedly said that he would run for president with Binay for vice president if the NPC fields an Escudero-Legarda or vice versa coalition.
Estrada spokesman Margaux Salcedo also clarified: “Makati Mayor Jojo Binay is one of the opposition leaders whom we greatly respect and believe will make a good president should he run and win in 2010. However, this does not mean to say that President Estrada will automatically choose him to be his running mate as Vice President should he decide to run for president himself. There is a selection process that the opposition has yet to go through and as of the moment, he (Estrada) is still observing the performance of the different presidential aspirants.”
Estrada was also misquoted yesterday to have “expressed his intentions in reaction to reports that the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) headed by business magnate Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. was planning to support a tandem of Senators Legarda and Francis Escudero. Considering that Senators Manual Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party (NP) and Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas of the Liberal Party (LP) appear unstoppable in their own quest for the presidency, Estrada said he might as well run himself, with United Opposition (UNO) president and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay as his running mate.”
Estrada never made any such statement to any reporter.