By Efren L. Danao, Senior
Sen. Mar Roxas filed Monday a
resolution in the Senate urging President Arroyo to pardon her
predecessor Joseph Estrada “at the appropriate time and on
Explaining the filing of
Resolution 135, Roxas said pardoning Estrada, who was convicted of
plunder by the Sandiganbayan last week, might enable the country to
heal the wounds of EDSA 2 and to move on.
Roxas said he met with Estrada at
the latter’s resthouse in Tanay, Rizal, over the weekend but they
did not discuss the issue of a presidential pardon so he did not
know if it would be welcomed.
Some Malacañang officials,
including Presidential Legal Adviser Sergio Apostol and National
Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, have already come out in favor
of a pardon.
Roxas said Malacañang could
immediately declare it was ready to pardon Estrada after the legal
process had been completed. A pardon could not be granted while a
convict is appealing his case.
He maintained that justice would
be served even if Estrada would be pardoned so soon after his
“He had been detained for six
years. He had already been convicted and as long as he lives, he
will always be described as a former president who had been
convicted. That is a very heavy cross to carry for a man of Erap’s
stature,” he said.
He said it is up to Malacañang
whether to issue a conditional or absolute pardon. An absolute
pardon would erase the conviction and Estrada would no longer
require him to return the money he had allegedly stolen and to
surrender the properties that he had acquired from the fruits of the
Earlier, Sen. Miriam Defensor
Santiago said she doubted if Estrada would accept a conditional
pardon, which would require him to perform some acts. And amnesty
for Estrada is not possible because it is extended only to groups
committing political crimes. Santiago added that one must accept
guilt of a political crime and apply for amnesty to be eligible for
At a weekly breakfast forum in
Quezon City, Leonard de Vera, one of the private prosecutors in
Estrada’s plunder case, said giving the ex-president an amnesty
would send a negative message and would also not foster national
De Vera was reacting to reports
that the government and the opposition agree on letting Estrada go
free but differ on whether it would be through a pardon or an
Estrada’s spokesman, Cagayan
de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, said the former convicted president
is now open to an amnesty.
De Vera said it is only normal
for Estrada to consider amnesty because he would be inconsistent if
he accepted a pardon from Mrs. Arroyo which he considers as an
“Pardon is a single act of the
President, while amnesty is initiated by the President but she needs
the approval of the majority of the Congress,” de Vera said during
the Kapihan ng Bayan forum. “In both cases it will be like Estrada
has not committed any crime, he will be unblemished.”
As far as Donald Dee, chairman of
the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is concerned the
verdict has been accepted by the business community, but the
government must come up with a closure to the issue.
An Arroyo support, Lakas-CMD Rep.
Prospero Nograles, chided Estrada for insisting on certain
conditions before agreeing to an amnesty offer, which includes
looking at the “fine print” of the amnesty proposal first.
“What fine print? It takes two
to tango. As far as I know, legally it is the ‘pardoner’ who
states the conditions and not the ‘pardonee’ or the convicted.
It seems like tables are being turned around here,” Nograles said.
He said only a pardon could apply
to Estrada because his case did not involve a political offense.
“I don’t think the state can
give amnesty to all those convicted as plunderers belonging to the
same class. How does amnesty apply to someone who is not a rebel or
a class of persons similarly situated?” Nograles said.
House Minority Leader Ronaldo
Zamora said if he were to advise Estrada he would tell him to avail
himself of an amnesty, wherein acceptance of guilt will not be a
“An amnesty is usually given in
general without any specific conditions other than the acceptance
that someone has committed an offense,” Zamora said.
He defended Estrada’s decision
to set conditions before agreeing to an amnesty offer.
--With Jefferson Antiporda
and Maricel V. Cruz