Once again, a collective, despairing sigh of OIP. Only in the Philippines.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo granted convicted felon and plunderer par excellence former President Estrada “executive clemency” for gross offenses committed against the People of the Philippines.
Executive clemency means pardoning Estrada and expunging all his criminal transgressions. By giving him an absolute pardon, she restored all his civil and political rights, which were automatically removed by his conviction of atrocious crimes involving illegally amassing billions of pesos by virtue of his public office. Not only that. A deal was worked out in that he can keep some, if not most, of the money he got during his years as a so-called public servant. This was openly admitted by Estrada’s lawyers and Malacanang and is reportedly included in the document giving him executive clemency.
Though not totally unexpected, the indecent haste by which Gloria Arroyo gave Estrada absolution shocked many. But decency is the last thing we can expect from the Arroyo administration. The reasons given were his advanced age (70), the fact that he has served time, even under comfortable conditions, and the need to for the country to “unite and move on” .
Move on to where, in heaven’s name ? Anarchy and chaos ? Apart from once again being the laughing stock of the international community, this puts the country in a dark, dispiriting place where the rule of law means just about nothing. What kind of credibility do we have as a nation and as a people ?
Not since the Marcos dictatorship has such brutal political cynicism been displayed by our purported Chief Executive. Her move was motivated by the exigencies of political survival, of course. Under fire from all sides for her almost surreal and diabolic corrupt practices (overpriced and questionable deals, handing out cash in bags to underlings like a Mafia don and other things I can hardly bear to think about), she had to remove a political thorn on her side and neutralize a potent opposition rallying point. In doing so, she kicked us all in the teeth, with a smirk on her face.
I feel sick to my stomach.