Prudence and Madness

The Estrada Pardon: A Mockery of the Philippine Justice System
October 25, 2007, 19:33
Filed under: News And Social Issues | Tags:

Since Estrada’s conviction as guilty for the charge of plunder, there have been speculations that he will be asking for executive clemency from Arroyo. Set aside all other excuses that the Estrada camp has given, it’s all apparent that the Estrada and his cohorts are doing all that they can possibly do with money and connections just to keep him out of jail (and I mean, a real jail, a prison cell behind prison bars, not some comfortable two-storey summer mansion). And after a short while of denying that he’s asking for a pardon (even vehemently saying he refuses to think of asking for it), finally his lawyers have pleaded for the clemency from the President, despite the flowery language that Estrada do not actually acknowledge the legitimacy of Arroyo’s presidency but only is asking for pardon from someone who could give it to their client (and I think only the president of the country could do that isn’t?). Arroyo, on the other hand, has always been open to the idea of negotiating granting clemency for Estrada. I mean, what a grand way of exhibiting her advantage over the enemy right?

And now, the pardon has been granted to Estrada.

He got the conviction guilty of plunder but did not suffer from it really. Has he ever languished inside a real prison cell during the years of which his case was tried? No. In fact, he has transferred residences, stayed in expensive hospitals, and even went abroad for some medical treatment.

What happened to the penalty that is the result of the conviction? Will he simply walk away without serving a portion of it? He haven’t even seen the inside of a prison cell and here comes the pardon on a silver plate, courtesy of the Malacañan. How will this reflect upon the integrity of our justice system?

I speak as an ordinary citizen with a very ordinary grasp of Philippine politics and laws. What does this issue tell me? That in the country where I live, those who have the money and the connections can buy or negotiate their way out of serving prison term?  While us, ordinary citizens are always kept on our toes to make sure we do not violate any laws, some arrogant few swagger, without care as to whom they hurt or trample along the way.  How can I believe in the justice system if the President herself can easily overrule it?

Equality under the law… it doesn’t seem to make sense anymore. It’s almost a myth.