Philippines: Arroyo Pardons Plunder Convict Estrada

Many recoiled in horror, showed signs of disbelief and have become sick since around 6:00 pm today after the Presidential Palace announced that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has granted a pardon for Joseph Estrada, whose ouster by People Power 2 in 2001 made her president.

For a quick view of the pardon or executive clemency Arroyo granted to Estrada, take a look at the blog wits and nuts. It includes the full text of the pardon.

Noting the swift way the pardon was given, alice in wanderlust posts a news item on the issue and inserts her comments there, like a case of “thinking aloud”.

Proving that young Filipinos today as still concerned, cristiniwini gives her view alongside laments about the lost momentum in the semestral break:

She'll do whatever it takes to get people's attention off her. She even gave former President Joseph Estrada the pardon just to make people think about it more. I have nothing against Erap but don't you think that there are a lot more people deserving of it than him. He put the country in so much shame and she's just letting this go? I mean, wtf. Right?

Pabrika Imagery shares the views of many regarding Arroyo's motive in granting the pardon:

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has her dirty hands full of controversy: the broadband fiasco, the bribery AKA as financial assistance, and the deadly Glorietta bombing.

And what better way to deviate all the attention, all the boos and the insults thrown her way, than to do the unthinkable, the unforgivable?

and suggests that:

We might as well dissolve the Sandiganbayan, which found Erap guilty beyond reasonable doubt of plundering this poor country. Throw in the dissolution of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (tasked with recovering the ill-gotten Marcos wealth), considering that the Marcoses are back in power after all the pillaging they've done.

Addresing Arroyo, if i give up i'll get what i deserve has this to say:

~tiNAwaG ka LNg PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL AROYO paRDoN na KgaD! amfness! [You were just called by Estrada as President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and you instantly gave pardon! Gosh!]

Thoughts of a Misplaced Jester is also incensed:

This is outrageous. This clearly proves that PGMA will stop at nothing to protect her presidency…

and takes the country's bishops to task for lobbying that Estrada be granted clemency:

The senile bishops of CBCP have come so far as to calling this pardon a Christian act when they were asking for it from PGMA. They reasoned that Erap has suffered enough and deserves the little amount of dignity in the twilight of his life. Let me pose this question. How about the faceless poor and their growling stomachs? How about the Filipinos who are yet to be born but already have unpaid accounts from the World Bank? How about us, the Filipino people who were bastardized by this plunder? We are all sad victims of these plunderers. Is it not frustrating to know that we have the laws to prosecute the culprits at court but with this blatant abuse of executive discretion this 6 year litigation is well, mainstream farce? Good heavens. This is Christian? Which Christ are we talking about here?

Telling it straight and in Filipino, reypinmoko agrees and says the pardon makes a mockery of the 2001 uprising.

another blog, bury me in this dress, feels betrayed:

The Dwarf just pardoned The Yak. I’m trying to laugh it off but I’ve really lost all respect for the administration. Goddess help the Filipinos because we are all doomed. Even Filipinos outside the country and living the golden life abroad.

A veteran of People Power 2 uprising, paolo's pen, perhaps speaks out:

The presidential pardon reportedly has good intentions, but for someone like me who was in EDSA everyday that fateful January in 2001, this latest development leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Is this what we fought for? For naught? At that time, our intention was to get rid of this crook, and for the main beneficiary of the people's actions against another person to give pardon to this same person, parang mag-asawang sampal sa mukha. I love this country, but in times like these, I question whether it's all worth it.

Newsstand describes the reaction at the central desk of the country's most influential newspaper:

We in the newsroom knew the decision was coming (as one editor-wag put it, “Pinatay na ang baboy,” referring to preparations involving Estrada's favorite food, lechon), but still, when it came, we recoiled, horror-struck.

Ditto for Filipina Soul who compares Estrada's fate with that of Ferdinand Marcos:

Marcos was exiled from the Philippines up to his death, and ERAP gets pardoned?!

This is absolute nonsense, a cause for blackamail, makes Arroyo a laughingstock, and a mockery of the justice system!

Oooh it makes me so mad!

For the blog THINKING ALOUD, a lamentation that the rule of law has been gutted by opportunism and that ultimately, an injustice was done against Filipinos:

I know of no words, negative superlatives, or any reaction for that matter, that could ever express my resentment and condemnation of this decision. Why do I disapprove of it?

The man was convicted of a crime–of robbing taxpayers of their money and keeping it for himself for his own selfish gains–and should, therefore, pay for his crime by serving his sentence in jail.

But no, because of political maneuvering, the incumbent president grants pardon to this criminal to divert the attention away from the more controversial issues, of which her name is written all over as the orchestrator, like the cash gift corruption at the palace, the national brodband network deal, and charter change. Former president or not, he deserves to rot in jail. If he doesn't, what message does this convey? It only says that here in the Philippines, you can get away with your crimes. It shows partiality: some others who are convicted of some petty felony, yeah, they get punished; but others like Estrada–with his loads of money, his years in public service, his love of the Filipino masses, and his supporters–he doesn't deserve to go to jail. He deserves to be forgiven. This only shows that indeed there is no rule of law in this country.


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