After six years of trial, former Philippine president Joseph Estrada was found guilty of plunder by a special anti-graft court. This was the first time a former president was convicted of such crime in the Philippines.
Estrada, a popular movie actor turned politician, was elected with an overwhelming number of votes in 1998. He was ousted from power in 2001 when it was exposed that Estrada was receiving money from illegal sources. Estrada was also accused of using his office to divert public funds to his secret bank account.
Alleba Politics provides useful links to read the full text of the court’s decision. Star Neverfade’s Site writes a short biography of Estrada. Read the arguments of the defense panel in Estrada’ website. Know more about Sandiganbayan, the special anti-graft court in the Philippines.
An OFW Living in HK comments on the verdict:
“Joseph Estrada's fall is complete. He's now an ex-president found guilty of taking advantages in proportions of great magnitude considered a crime of plundering from the Filipino people. The wheels of justice finally reached an end point in Estrada's case and satisfied or not, the Filipino people will move on.”
Like a Rolling Store on the significance of the verdict:
“The significance of the Estrada verdict would be greatly diminished if the same standards of justice do not apply to the officials of the Arroyo government. The president and her close associates have been accused of systematic corruption on a far bigger scale than Estrada. We hope that the Estrada verdict will set a legal precedent that may be useful if ever Arroyo is prosecuted in similar cases of plunder, corruption and perjury.”
Tingog.com warns other public officials:
“In the end, let this be a warning to all public officials, including (President) Gloria Arroyo herself. Do our nation wrong, and we now have the capacity to prosecute.”
Darang Sisa explains why she is cynical about the Estrada case:
“So far, I am feeling a little cynical about the Estrada case, I am contented with the verdict; don't get me wrong, I mean I believe that Joseph Estrada plundered millions, if not billions, but what about the others? What about GloriaA and Mike Arroyo, et al? What about those who came before Estrada and Arroyo? Tell me, who isn't guilty?”
Blog @ AWBHoldings.com believes the verdict is not enough to prosecute all corrupt officials:
“For those who are claiming that this verdict should be a warning to all corrupt politicians – in your dreams. The justice system remains broken as ever, and nothing has changed. A single verdict will not change the system. As long as you continue electing corrupt politicians, as long as you selectively put corrupt people in jail, as long as you tolerate petty violations of the law, as long as apathy reigns among us, no amount of jail time nor gun shots can address corruption.”
DR4 assails opinion polls:
“These surveys have been conditioning the minds of the people that since a higher percentage wants Estrada acquitted, the Sandiganbayan should also acquit him. Are we now saying that as long as the people want it we should already neglect the law?”
Fireworks and Fairydust articulates the sentiments of ordinary Filipinos:
“I'm not really a political fan but I DO believe in justice. I believe that if you had the guts to do something bad or unlawful or sinful, then you should have the guts to accept the consequences of your actions. It's as simple as that. No need to get into the nitty gritty. No need for lawyer jargons and political words. When you look at it in black and white this is what it is: he committed a crime, therefore, he should be punished. It's good to know that there is still some justice in the Philippines.”
Journalist Gideon Rachman remembers Estrada:
“I was sorry to read today that Joseph “Erap” Estrada, the former president of the Phillippines, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for corruption. I have a soft spot for Erap. He is the only politician I have ever interviewed who actually fell asleep during the interview.”
There are administration politicians who are floating the idea of granting an executive pardon for Estrada to preserve political stability and foster national reconciliation. Estrada has rejected this proposal since he believes this is admission of guilt. Estrada will appeal his case which may reach up to the Supreme Court. Today, he remains at his vacation estate pending a court order to transfer him to a national penitentiary.
Bayen’s Living Room and Lex Philippinensia are opposed to the granting of pardon. Keyboard Monologues thinks “an abrupt grant of presidential pardon might send the wrong signal” to the public. Cheftonio’s B Log is in favor of house arrest and encourages Estrada to accept pardon if offered. Stella Arnaldo is confident that “the guilty verdict and a subsequent pardon could be the start of a turnaround” for the country. Talk of the Nation is opposed to giving Estrada the privilege of house arrest.
7 deadly jeans says it is impossible for Estrada not to receive a guilty verdict. Karlaloo93 views the court’s ruling will be both a positive legacy and disaster for the country. Life in the OC is disappointed with the verdict. Carverhouse wonders why the court’s judgment raises more questions instead of becoming a triumph of justice. Jerison insists Estrada should have been acquitted. Yipeee, who once joined anti-Estrada rallies, is not quite happy with the court’s decision. Manila Bay Watch thinks there is no more rule of law in the country.
Philippine Affairs disagrees with Estrada’s assertion that his conviction was a political decision. The blogger says “it was a decision that was based on merits of the evidence presented.” Thin Bastard blames Estrada’s legal mistakes for his current woes.
Khanterbury Tales praises the media for the news coverage of the historic event.