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A trap of his own making
By mlq3 Posted in Events Mode on September 12, 2007 148 Comments 11 min read
Gratuitous punishments Previous Businessmen behaving badly Next

I was on standby for a quick interview on Channel News Asia (Singapore). They asked three questions.

Was the verdict a surprise?

No. Estrada himself leaked what the verdict would be, and in general, the scuttlebutt prior to the reading of the verdicts indicated the eventual ruling (I didn’t go into this, but the scuttlebutt was this: some sources said, conviction for perjury but acquittal for plunder: this was actually the scuttlebutt for some time until yesterday; others, acquittal for perjury but conviction on all counts of plunder; the most accurate came late in the day yesterday, and it was: acquittal for perjury and conviction on two out of four counts of plunder, which proved exactly right).

The thing is, the verdict is still the next to the last step, since the former President can still appeal to the Supreme Court. Not that anyone expects the Supreme Court to overturn the graft court’s verdicts.

As it is, Estrada’s Supreme Court appeal might take 1-3 years; meanwhile, he does have a kind of new lease on political life by refusing administration offers of a presidential pardon or a congressionally-sanctioned amnesty; we have a scheduled presidential election in 2010 and he can then ask for or receive a pardon from the next president (I didn’t go into how his ability to extract a pardon might be improved by his backing a candidate in 2010). Until the appeals process is exhausted, it seems the confiscation of Estrada’s bank accounts and New Manila property will be on hold, and he won’t be deprived of his ability to sign contracts and checks before then.

How are Estrada’s urban supporters taking it?

Asking around, I was surprised to hear that many of his supporters were in shock. But beyond that, the main thing is that while Estrada has the support of a third of the population, emotions peaked in May, 2001 when his supporters attacked the presidential palace. Affection for Estrada doesn’t necessarily translate into many people being willing to risk life and limb for him: they did that in 2001 and it failed (I didn’t have time to go into this, but it also means that it could still result in his supporters voting for candidates Estrada endorses).

The Club Filipino press conference at 1 and the rally in the financial capital, Makati, later today will show their clout in terms of numbers. As it is, they announced 5,000 protesters at the Sandiganbayan but only 500 showed up (I didn’t go into whether or not talk of cloud-seeding last night and the announcement by the Left that they won’t participate in the rallies had anything to do with this). I also didn’t have time to mention a strong hunch I have, which is that most people simply don’t care anymore: the political tension was primarily the Palace’s and media’s making.

Is this a boon for the opposition?

Estrada’s stuck in a trap of his own devising. He submitted to the court, saying it was a kangaroo court doesn’t cut it. Again, I didn’t have time to point out that basically, Estrada’s shield and sword is his popularity: but what if he made a summons, and nobody showed up? A call to arms would reveal, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what the real numbers (and resources) of the Estrada camp are. But then, this is based on my belief that the Bastille moment for Estrada’s cause was in 2001, and when that failed, you can’t recreate it again. Too much time has passed.

I did say that one handicap the opposition will have is that no one wants to be responsible for turmoil on the streets -and being accused of sabotaging the economy; as it is, the stock market and the peso improved immediately after the verdict. I didn’t have time to suggest that things getting out of hand (presuming this is possible) would also have a negative impact on Estrada’s appeal.

So that’s that. Let the analysis begin. The lawyer-bloggers will be in the front line in trying to make sense of the decision, whether it’s a legally-sound or disappointing one. An early opinion is that the court was too kind to Estrada.

What irks me is Chavit Singson going on TV to gloat. Talk about playing with matches while perched on a fuel drum. So far, he’s been the last man standing, but who will end up having the longest lease on political life? My bet’s on Estrada. and link to the Sandiganbayan decision. Atty. Soriano’s also made the PDF of the decision available on his site. I’ve also decided to include it here. It will take some time for non-lawyers to digest the 200-plus page decision.


As a member of the Black and White Movement, here’s our group’s statement.

Blogger reactions have been interesting. Let’s start with a broader look at the continuing historical debate on Estrada’s fall (as Carlo’s Site points out, for an entire generation, the fall was the defining moment in terms of a political coming of age). Philippine Commentary argues that the Supreme Court made it impossible for justice to be upheld, while The Sassy Lawyer points out there is sufficient evidence to indicate Estrada relinquished his office, as well as the blunt realpolitik argument that success legitimizes rebellion. My own views are somewhere in between: I don’t think enough attention was paid by the Supreme Court to Estrada’s statement (on paper) upon leaving the Palace, and too much was paid to then Executive Secretary Edgardo Angara’s interpretation of events; it seems clear that while the public demonstrated out of frustration with the impeachment trial, a politico-military conspiracy also took place.

I don’t buy Paguia’s insistence on the constitutional clock being frozen, either. While I continue to hold that People Power is enshrined in the Constitution, I do believe that the logical ending for Edsa Dos should have been the proclamation of a revolutionary government: the problems since then have been along the lines of trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. I also don’t think that People Power, per se, has been invalidated since then; but its limitations have been exposed and unless specific conditions exist, efforts to get it rolling will fail.

A prediction was made by Inner Sanctum. Anyway, Diego K. Guerrero says the decision was crap. Mabini Hall (columnist Geronimo Sy, who privately expressed dissatisfaction with my comments on his column praising the president; he said to please distinguish issues from personalities), expresses great satisfaction over the verdict, calling it a triumph of institutions. Patsada Karajaw Nation thinks the case is an exception and won’t set a precedent (something [email protected] thinks, too). An OFW in Hong Kong takes a more detached look at the verdict: people are simply going to move on. pmaniego is frankly ambivalent, while bits and pieces says different people wanted different outcomes, but in general, there’s a positive lesson to be learned. Mommy Talks, Wife Stories, Girl Speak says the entire political leadership’s been indicted and convicted. Zwischen Immer und Nie has little patience for those asking for leniency for Estrada.
The Perpetual Malcontent remarked acquittal might have been nice, if only as a slap on the face of media. ExpectoRants says the President at least, apologized, while Estrada remains unrepentant. EJ’s Site makes a different comparison between Estrada and the President.

Of Law and Badminton, on the other hand, points out there were other defendants and their prospects aren’t bright at all. The Silent Relief was amazed by Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s acquittal.

tonyo took the business community to task, while those of a different orientation, like pointed to the boost in the markets after the verdict was handed down. i love the playing field takes school authorities to task, saying if they can set aside time for students to watch basketball games, they should have let students follow the proceedings.Stella Arnaldo points out the American solution for Watergate was a pardon for Nixon: and that a pardon for Estrada is inevitable.

So far, at least (not least because of the rain?) the sense of foreboding of Ilongga in Manila, of muffled solitude, and When Thet Speaks, among others, may prove unfounded. There were those, like Postcard Headlines, who were sure nothing major was going to happen. Most remarkable, to me, are the expressions of sympathy for Estrada, simply as a human being. Pity for Estrada was felt by The Chronicles of Ardee, and from what I see scanning the blogosphere, many others. From Dubai, Slap Happy recounts an early confrontation between Erap, newly-elected president, and people in Subic; and yet, how Estrada, now an ex-president, deserves a little consideration. Another rewind and fast-forward look’s taken by, and a quote is called for at this point:

Now six years later, the verdict finally arrived. The same battle cry that we used to chant in EDSA six years ago together with all the people of God has just been made into a realization, just an hour after this post was written.

I never regretted the fact that I became an instrument of history’s ousting of a corrupt president. It was a matter of national principle and moral ascendancy even though I myself and the rest of the Filipinos have our share of moral transgressions. What I regret is the fact that the person who replaced the former president is more corrupt and deceiving.

It is like an evolution: the more time flies, the more corrupt they become. No wonder many Filipinos these days are Atheist because Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution has proven true of these self-evolved supposed leaders of the Orient Pearl. In some point of my catholic perspective, I agree with some of my Atheist blog friends’ belief in Darwin’s Theory because they have proven correct in terms of our leader’s political evolution. Look at Gloria now… This is the only time that my catholic view of Darwin’s theory will fully reconcile on the atheist’s perspective of evolution.

In a recent SWS survey, Erap was found to be trustworthy than Arroyo and believed that the former is far better than the latter (Read the full SWS report). But the bottom-line is, justice is not dictated by public opinion. He committed acts of unbecoming of a president, which only deserve such penal discipline. Of course the sympathy outpours on the convicted, but be reminded that our acts towards men has consequences that has to be faced. And it is now time that Erap should face his’.

Now the Irony, if Erap’s minions six years ago did open the envelope, would he face this same kind of political “harassment” or dilemma in the first place? This kind of “What-if-question” will just remain as is that will haunt Erap for the rest of his life behind bars.

The other Irony, the situation for Arroyo is a lose-lose situation: Now Erap is convicted, Arroyo will soon face the charges filed against her and her hubby. Now that the court has proven that, no one is above the law even if you are a former president. With this, Erap’s minions will also work hard in trying to charge the president of mistrust. And if for instance, Erap was acquitted, still the same enthusiasm of getting Arroyo and her hubby behind bars will still prove potent for her enemies motivated by such intentions of getting back at her. This is the situation that Arroyo cannot escape. Whichever way her administration treat the case of Erap (which was recently concluded) she will still earn the ire of many Filipinos around the world, both inside and outside the realm of public surveys, just because like her predecessor, she failed to live up to her August’s office name.

Goliath has fallen, and the Estrada Case is only the beginning of a much heated ousting of a leader. Erap was found Guilty as expected and as common sense dictates. The next chapter is Gloria’s turn to caress the cold steel bars with her hubby with much help from most of the Opposition Senators.

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  1. i just hope that the 3 judges were not “consumed” with the events happening outside their realm with regards to the decisions they have made with regards to estrada’s cases….hopefully, they do have “consciences”….;)

  2. May the guilty verdict on Estrada be a fair WARNING to the the current president that one day(hopefully soon) she will also be judged by history and hopefully by the same justice system for all the extrajudicial killings under her administation, Hello Garci cheating scandal,Jose Pidal,Jocjoc Bolante ,ZTE mega scandal and other controversies during her term.

    I hope she follows the example of Erap and face the music here and NOT emulate the flight strategy of Marcos to Hawaii.”Vamos a ver” (we will see…abangan!)

  3. And the soap opera that is Philippine politics continues. Pero sawa na ako sa cast na ito. Can we move on to the next season?

  4. There is Gallery of Presidents of the Philippines, situated in the Main Hall of Malacanang Palace.At the rate we are going ,it’s becoming more like Rogues Gallery ! What a shame!

  5. acda, estrada just guaranteed himself a starring role in 2010. notice the president huddled in the palace with her people, while most everyone who wants to matter in 2010 made a beeline for the sandiganbayan. this is the most interesting thing to me, after all relevance is a basic requirement for political clout.

  6. If the Continuing Saga of Philippine Presidents were to be given a title,I would suggest “The Great,The Good ,The Bad and the Bad and Ugly”

    The Great:MLQ,RM
    The Good:CPG,DM,CA,FVR
    The Bad:Two of them.
    The Bad And Ugly:you know who!

  7. The Estrada guilty should indeed serve as a warning to corrupt politicians, both administration and opposition.

  8. mlq3:”Let the analysis” – and the SPINNING – “begin.” Already, estrada has made a big deal about how the justices of the SB were pressured “from above.” If he has such contempt for the judicial system, why engaGE it at all?

    When he made that grand gesture of firing his lawyers, he should have stuck to his guns and totally rejected the SB as a vehicle for justice. Instead, he hires Saguisag and plays along. Kinda like an atheist getting baptized just before death – what did he have to lose after all? If he got the decision he wanted, he would regain his legitimacy. If he didn’t – as in fact he didn’t – he would just snarl and say the decision was flawed.

    People – opposition politicians especially – should really stop riding the coattails of this lothario. When I vote in 2010, I want to vote for someone who can convince me that he has a workable plan to take this country out of the shit hole that it’s in, not someone who includes “Supported Estrada” as a major point in his CV.

  9. Congratulations to the Sandiganbayan for a very courageous decision. Knowing that Erap has tremendous political clouts did not deter them from finding Erap Guilty of plunder.Those presidential wannabes who are obviously capitalizing on Erap’s underdog image did not deserve our votes. They’re vultures cascading on Erap’s political carcass hoping to feast on them.

  10. “notice the president huddled in the palace with her people, while most everyone who wants to matter in 2010 made a beeline for the sandiganbayan.”

    Yeah maybe the lemming have a clue.

  11. rom, when his case didn’t seem to be going anywhere in 2006, i thought he should just gamble on running for the senate. he could have gambled on just refusing to recognize the authority of the court, as you pointed out. but then again, he’s an old pro so maybe he calculated it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you make puppydog eyes at the end of it all.

    but i don’t think any candidate in 2010 will focus on what their stand on estrada was. they might mention it to audiences that market research says still cares about that, but i think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the electorate’s demands come 2010: they will insist on candidates proving they have a plan and not just good intentions.

    gee. looky, looky. me, an optimist!

  12. Meanwhile, here’s a list of scandals and anomalous transactions that Gloria and her government have been involved in from day 1 after having toppled former President Estrada (and unresolved to this day):

    The list is from DJB’s Philippine Commentary thread “After Erap, Who’s next?” , preceeded by a brief introduction (his).

    Readers may google any of the following search terms to get an idea of the vast quagmire of corruption and malfeasance that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her diehard allies must surely be brought before the Bar of Justice for:

    Jose Pidal unexplained wealth
    Nani Perez, IMPSA bribery scandal
    Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard
    Impeachment of Hilario Davide
    Venable Contract Norberto Gonzales
    EO 464
    Oakwood Mutiny
    JocJoc Bolante fertilizer scam
    Comelec Automated Counting Machine scandal
    2004 elections Philippines
    Maguindanao Zubiri Pimentel Bedol
    Hello Garci Wiretapping and Electoral Rigging Case
    Kidnapping Vidal Doble Family Medy Poblador
    Extrajudicial Killings
    ZTE National Broadband Network Deal
    Basilan Beheadings Abu Sayyaf and MILF Peace Talks

  13. regardless of how anyone spins it, a court of law has spoken. estrada is a convicted mandarambong. a triumph of the rule of law. another egg on the face of the incorrigible cynic. make no mistake about it. a conviction (beyond reasonable doubt) is supported by clear and convincing evidence that allows no room for doubt. now, its not a mere accusation or “political harassment”. estrada has stolen hundreds of millions of pesos that rightfully belong to the people at the time the country was desperately in need of it. any politician who continues to venerate him like a fly on an excrement should see the folly of his ways.

    btw, someone in jinggoy’s camp should counsel him to refrain from calling his father “president”, or “the president”, while addressing the incumbent by her first or last name. i know he is in denial, but he should come to terms with reality now. but then again, what could anyone expect from a guy like him?

  14. The trial of Erap was as fair and honest as the ZTE deal.

    Those who deplore deceit and corruption overflowing in this regime could be guilty of double standard if they belieive that Erap’s got a fair trial.

    In the first place, the proper venue for the trial was the impeachment proceedings. Secondly, the special court of the Sandiganayan was extra-constitutionally constituted.

  15. cvj, the “victory” of EDSA 2 will never be completed. It was hijacked right from the start, by people undeserving to benefit from it.

    Bluepanjee’s ruminations lead only to one conclusion, which is what I believe all along. If GMA’s turn to face justice is inevitable, she really only has one choice. Hold on to power forever.

    Itaga mo sa bato, di sya bababa sa pwesto.

    Or is there another way out for her?

    Notice the number of deals this government has with China. Perhaps, GMA et al will do relinquish power, but only after stealing enough for their rainy days, and greasing their future escape path: China.

    Do we have an extradition treaty with China, and can we expect to successfully extradite the buggers if they do flee the country?

    Can GMA ever expect the same mercy the way ERAP expects it from the Filipino people? Erap, unlike GMA, only stole from the people. (and I’m not saying plunder is a small thing. I’m only saying: in comparison to what GMA did) GMA on the other hand, stole money, the vote, and lives of people. For every deparecidos’ family under this regime, who will be willing to forgive her? And what for? forgiveness is only for those who are sorry.

    Manolo, there’s reason to be optimistic. I don’t think voters will just insist on someone to have a plan (assuming there is an election). I think voters will more than likely refuse the TRAPOS, and self-proclaimed saviors. Likewise, voters would be more wary of two-faced candidates, who say one thing but then turn back on their word the moment they win. I’m seriously expecting that if someone relatively new in politics would somehow run for president in 2010, he’d win by a landslide. As many of the present presidentiables evicts vomitus with a lot of people today. None of them is acceptable.

  16. IMPUNITY:Exemption from punishment, penalty, or harm.

    Can somebody from this blog explain why unscrupulous Filipino politicians act with impunity when they are in power? Akala ba nila “they can fool all the people all the time?”

    This was true with Erap (based on the details in 293-page verdict) and happening again in the current administration.

  17. cvj, ah yes. i missed that.

    taga, the explanation is simple. No follow through. Impunity reigns bec no one is punished CONSISTENTLY. The LAW isn’t applied EQUALLY. Try to punish every corrupt official who’s ever graced politics in this country (including those fleeing by extraditing them, relentlessly) and you’d see these swine fall in line.

    You can say mahirap na madali disiplinahin ang Pilipino.
    Mahirap dahil obstinate tayo. Madali dahil once ipakita mo na wala kang sasantuhin, mabilis pa tayo sa alas kwatrong sumunod sa batas.

    Bakit ang mga drivers sa Subic disiplanado, pero pag nakalabas na dito, masahol pa sa aso magmaneho?

    Sa subic, walang driver na lumalabag sa batas ang sinasanto ng mga pulis. Elsewhere, konting padulas lang.

    “Political will” will go a long way in ridding us of corruption. A president truly wishing to lift our country from poverty will have to seriously confront this issue before anything else.

    Why? Everything follows with a clean bureaucracy. Not exactly everything following, but enough to make implementing good changes easier.

  18. “Political will” will go a long way in ridding us of corruption. A president truly wishing to lift our country from poverty will have to seriously confront this issue before anything else.devil’s adv.”


  19. devils, i do agree that the public mood would welcome a tough, no-nonsense outsider: if one emerged and ran for president. but failing that, i think they’d also be more inclined to consider candidates who can demonstrate they have a plan, some sort of eq along with iq, and have shown some self control in the past. i think most people aren’t extremist by nature and are seeking balance.

  20. taga de cebu,

    “Political will” must be qualified. It can be good will or evil will. Hitler had political will. So had Winston Churchill. But obviously there was a big difference.

    You’re also implying that GMA lacks political will. Well, she obviously had the political will to cheat in 2004 elections. Cheating in that scale takes some guts. She has the will to pursue controversial, if not anomalous, deals with China, to open large-scale mining sites nothwithstanding local resistance, to promote Palparan, appoint ret Generals to civilian posts, Angelo Reyes from one post to another, Atienza to DENR …

    GMA has political will. The question is is it good political will or evil? Frmr SWD Sec. Dinky Soliman who had obseved her upclose and personal said GMA has the capacity for evil.

  21. “I have sat at the sumptuous tables of power, but I have not run away with the silverware.”..DIOSDADO MACAPAGAL

    “Frmr SWD Sec. Dinky Soliman who had observed her upclose and personal said GMA has the capacity for evil.PINOY”

    How will you reconcile these two quotes.President Macapagal was so honest,the daughter so different.

  22. There are now two former presidents(The dictator and the recently convicted one) with a records of notoriety and a third one who who could soon join them in the Presidential Rogues Gallery of Philippine History.She is a very strong candidate.

  23. The Presidential Rogues Gallery could aptly be called the “MEA Culpa Gallery”.

    M -Marcos

    E -Erap

    A -Arroyo

    A warning to future occupants to the throne in Malacanang Palace(incidentally,why do we call this PALACE?)

  24. i maintain that erap should have been convicted for a lesser offense (violation of RA 3019 probably) but definitely not plunder.

    and i agree with rene saguisag. special courts like the one created for erap are really programmed to convict.

    soon the filipino people will create one for gloria.

  25. “now it’s erap. tomorrow it’s gloria.THE BYSTANDER”

    It is as sure as death and taxes and everything in between.

  26. Estrada fate is now known, while the sitting President is still unknown and could be worse, for hers sins as alleged are so numerous and Justice is Waiting, may take a little, still she is young, lots of time, justice Philippine style maybe slow, but sometimes it works…

  27. for all those who think and believe that the verdict on estrada was a triumph of the rule of law, think again.

  28. mlq3,

    “Tal pueblo, tal gobierno [As the people are, so their government is].”

    “The people get the government they deserve.”

    “Vox populi, vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God).”

  29. considering that the guilty verdict was unanimous, it’s very unlikely that the sandiganbayan would overturn its decision. the real battle now has shifted to the supreme court. either i smell an acquittal or a conviction for a lesser offense.

    gloria, you’re next!

  30. “I have sat at the sumptuous tables of power, but I have not run away with the silverware.”

    Diosdado Macapagal

    WARNING to his duaghter!

  31. “Speaking for the first time since Wednesday morning’s Sandiganbayan decision on Estrada’s plunder and perjury case, Arroyo said the “people are tired of political drama.”

    I think she was talking to the mirror.tsk,tsk

  32. Erap (drama according to GMA) chapter done. Let’s start with the Gloria (most likely massacre) chapter.

    If Gloria insists on staying in Malacanang, we will just rename it as the Gloria Arroyo National Penitentiary.

  33. Pinoy, I’ve said your sentiments in past posts. I’m not denying GMA has political will. I’m saying she’s exercising it for all the wrong reasons and all the wrong policies. Which differentiates a Lee Kwan Yew from a Marcos.

    MLQ3, of course that is EXACTLY the public mood. The public is so disgusted with politics in general they’d welcome any juan de la cruz not tainted with it. And okay, qualifying presidentiables who have both EQ and IQ, who do we have? seriously. civil society has to come up with a candidate aside from the ones presenting themselves today. No to Mar, Loren, Lacson, or any other politician. If I’m forced to choose between any of the people presenting themselves now, I’d have to boycott the 2010 elections and decidedly leave this country for good!

    And yes, most people aren’t extremist by nature. I know I sure wasn’t. But frustration does pushes you to be otherwise, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s where all those fundamentalists come from… (btw, have u read the transcript of Bin Laden’s videotaped message? that was some thumping he gave Bush and America)

  34. mlq3:we all have a bit of an optimist in us, i guess. but really, the demands of the electorate seem to matter very little in deciding who runs for office, don’t you think? the process followed by parties in selecting their candidates isn’t all that susceptible to public pressure after all. oh dear. am i a pessimist? 😀

  35. dream on, folks. there is a whale of a difference between what erap has done and what pgma is speculated to be liable for. erap did what he did directly either as principal, accomplice or co-conspirator. pgma, even on panfilo’s or cayetano’s (et al.) wildest accusations, cannot be directly linked to a criminal act, let alone a capital offense.

    any one can make up charges against any one. a thousand alleged anomalies (in addition to djb’s list, as recited by mbw,) are all non sequitors as far as pgma is concerned without judicially admissible evidence directly involving her. if there is an iota of such damning evidence, do you think panfilo, cayetano, etc. (with their protective privilege), or erap’s minions (with their seemingly bottomless pockets), would not have already shouted it to any one who would care to listen, even if they could not make it stick in a court of law or any other proper forum?

    keep on dreaming, guys. just don’t try to take the law in your own hands. you may not be up to it.

  36. “keep on dreaming, guys. just don’t try it with your own hands. you may not be up to it.bencard”

    Bencard,coming from you,makes sense!based on experience?

  37. “With the conviction of Estrada, the victory of EDSA Dos is technically complete. Now to complete EDSA Tres…”

    The fetus has been aborted, the fetus has been aborted.

  38. “I have sat at the sumptuous tables of power, but I have not run away with the silverware.”

    Diosdado Macapagal

    President MacapagalLthe father of Gloria was such a decent man!I truly admire the “Poor Man from Lubao”.

    I have the feeling Gloria turned out this way due to the influence of Jose Pidal!What a Big One can do to a small one.Pity naman!