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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. some triumphalists said erap’s conviction means the rule of law prevailed, but others said it was a political out to legitimize…

    some do-gooders said that it will be a fair warning to othersnot to engage in corruption but others said that howe come that erap was punished but more corrupt… are being spared.

    come to think of it, those two diametrically opposed perceptions will continue to dominate the consciousness of the Filipino people for years to come which will guarantee a divided and confused society.

    we still have no unanimity of thought. a simple case of a former government official punished for misdeeds will not be accepted clearly by everyone.

    why? because it is more crystal clear that while we are trying to do good ( punishing to set example ) we always failed to do it right.

  2. mlq3,

    Am I supposed to react to the news? I mean do something? Should I? I have other things to do. I’ll react only if it treathens me directly. Otherwise, commentating is just fine. Nothing more. And since I’m kinda hooked, nothing less. Just got to get a fix, commentating — a national past time?

  3. As usual, I completely agree with Bencard two post.

    And I believe Sandigan bayan shoudl be congratulated for finally coming up with the verdict.


    Sure, Erap is very much welcome to participate in 2010 in what ever way he wants. The same way that he particpated in Philippine politics since he was a mayor. No wnat is preventing or can prevent him from doing so. And I always believe that everyone is entitled to “self redemption”. I just hope that he will do good in 2010. Kasi kadalasan yung napakahirap makabalik sa pelikula ang isang artista laos.


    What kind of closure you want for “EDSA 3”.


    Is that all that you can do, make a list? I just hope you dont stop there. Go and get Gloria. . Note that Erap Eraps list is shorter , but look he got convicted.

  4. iRonnie :
    chavit should also be behind bars. the nerve of him to feel like a messiah. i’d rather call him judas.


    The only way put chavit behind bars is to file charges, right?

  5. Rego, that’s for the EDSA Tres crowd to determine. Just like you, i’m from EDSA Dos so the most i can do is listen (and react).

    On Chavit, if it were not for his immunity, he would also have been found guilty.

  6. Year 2014: history repeats itself:

    “regardless of how anyone spins it, a court of law has spoken. GLORIA ARROYO 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.”

  7. however, i want that roller pinned along diosdado macapagal highway. well if chavit can lay still beside jocjoc, that would even be more delectable.

  8. “No to Mar, Loren, Lacson, or any other politician.”

    devils, i’ll be at your right hand. in fact, no to politicians whose surnames have been repeatedly recycled election year in and out.

  9. Allegations against PGMA can also be said against the two Ex Prime Ministers of Bangladesh, now they are both in Jail, charged with Corruptions and anomolies during their turns at the till along with a couple of hundreds of other Politicians and High Public Officials. Bangladesh is doing a Clean Up, the Philippines will be doing hers soon, and it will start at the VERY TOP. so forget about the Selective Justice sytem that got its mandated from who is sitting in Malacanang, when times comes Justice is Waiting….

  10. Watch Ricky Carandang tonight in Big Picture for the interview with “whistleblower” Joey de Venecia.Ricky said that Joey implied in the interview that somebody really powerful was with Abalos in ZTE.Sino kaya?Big or Small one???

  11. Ok,Erap is now a convict.But somebody else is far worse than
    Erap not only in corruption but in dictatorial tendencies.

    In 2010,do you she will:

    a)Face the music just like Erap.
    b)Go on exile like Marcos.
    c)Try to cling to power through another “Con-con” or Con-Ass” manuever?

    My guess is C(she has no other choice to protect her own skin).

  12. Sad to say, We Filipinos have a penchant for thinking up a lot of conspiracy theories as to why he was convicted. Why bother having these institutions in place if we do not want to believe in the verdict rendered anyway. We might as well just dissolve these institutions that were put in place and spend the money on other worthy endeavors.

    The problem with our people is that they want democratic institutions in place, then if things do not favor their way, they lambast these institutions. In any trial, there will always be winners and losers. Filipinos love to connect the Gloria problem and the Erap problem as if they’re one and the same. Erap was put on trial for plunder and he was convicted. It has nothing to do with Gloria taking over the Presidency. THAT IS A DIFFFERENT PROBLEM.

    Our country will never grow up if we don’t start believing in the institutions we ourselves set up. It makes me think that Filipinos are such a suspicious lot. Every decision/event that doesn’t go their way will always have an angle. Jeez.

  13. List of Presidents of the Philippines in the “Gallery of Presidents”in Malacanang Palace

    1)Emilio Aguinaldo
    2)Manuel l.Quezon
    3)Jose P.Laurel
    4)Sergio Osmena
    5)Manuel Roxas
    6)Elpidio Quirino
    7)Ramon Magsaysay
    8)Carlos Garcia
    9)Diosdado Macapagal
    10)Ferdinand Marcos
    11)Corazon Aquino
    12)Fidel Ramos
    13)Joseph Estrada
    14)Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

    My nominees for the Presidential Rogues Gallery:

    1)Ferdinand Marcos(died in exile)
    2)Joseph Estrada(convicted)

    any other suggestions(lol)

  14. “devils, i’ll be at your right hand. in fact, no to politicians whose surnames have been repeatedly recycled election year in and out.”

    Which just goes to show that my sentiment is not a lone one. And I’ll be betting majority of our people feel the same. No to anyone who’s ever held office. Unless his name’s Jesse Robredo.

  15. “no to politicians whose surnames have been repeatedly recycled election year in and out.”


    Here we go again bloggers. Bloggers, including me, and other Internet-users. Have we forgotten the so-called digital divide.
    And then some of us have the nerve to say that the next president could come from fresh crop of public servants.

    My bet is this. Napanood na natin yan. Last 2007 elections, a group tried to present themselves as an alternative.People actually never rejected them. Di sila kilala talaga.Bumoto yata sa kanila ung mga bloggers lang at ilang kala mo kung sinong matitino.

    C’mon folks. Come 2010 elections, it will be either lacson, loren, mar or manny as president. Ganun talaga. Bumaba kayo sa masa para malaman nyo ang mentalidad nila.

  16. “Why bother having these institutions in place if we do not want to believe in the verdict rendered anyway. We might as well just dissolve these institutions that were put in place and spend the money on other worthy endeavors.”

    Anton, say that to the EDSA Dos crowd.

  17. cvj, if you’re planning to cause it yourself, you should know when and how. you just put yourself in the list of possible suspects, or, at least what we call here “persons of interest”. hope the n.b.i. would take note.

    “i want jocjoc’s head on the platter, too. pronto!” who do you think you are , inodoro, king herod reincarnate? i think you should just be content catching and receiving you know what.

    taga de cebu, if you are going to quote me, maybe you might want to do it correctly. i see that you changed what i wrote to add obscene flavor to it. i can play that game too, you know, but this time, i will take the “high road” in deference to our host, mlq3, whom i respect.

  18. “i will take the “high road” in deference to our host, mlq3, whom i respect.bencard”

    It is about time!

  19. We are too serious with all the talk on plunder and convictions .

    Here’s a a popular Aussie joke for a good friend who is trying very hard “to take the high road” :

    Aussie Kiss:Similar to a French Kiss, but given down under.

  20. Taga, i can understand why she would want that. FWIW, i’m all for happy endings, but since you asked about possible futures, we need to be thorough and consider all possibilities which ranges from a violent end a-la Caeusescu couple or a peaceful death due to old age as ‘President for life’, both of which are offshoots of your scenario ‘c’.

    Bencard, since i explicitly said i did not know when and how, that would be an unwarranted accusation on your part. As someone told me yesterday, lighten up.

  21. “i want jocjoc’s head on the platter, too. pronto!” who do you think you are , inodoro, king herod reincarnate? i think you should just be content catching and receiving you know what.

    no, bencard. once upon a time i think i was a guillotiner.

  22. a king herod reincarnate, not. but i know of a marcos reincarnate morphing–but am not running away and giving up the philippines like a lost cause, bencard.

  23. inidoro ni emilie:Let’s leave Bencards in peace! He is trying VERY HARD “to take the high road”.I guess it’s easier for him to join a Pinoy blog and vicariously enjoy the political excitement here than to START joining the blogs down under.It’s called “inferiority complex”.

    But I still think it’s cheaper than going to a therapist down under for all the pent-up feelings and ansgst of a terribly lonely self -confessed exile.

  24. We always wanted to catch the BIG fish when it comes to anomalies in the government. Now we got one with the conviction of Erap. The only thing missing is all the collaborators should be included in the conviction. Dahil sa susunod na Presidente, they may be the same people who may infuence the President and will know that they can get away with it.

    I dont believe GMA would like Erap to be convicted because she knows she may be next in line if the next President is given enough pressure like what is pressured on GMA by EDSA Dos forces. It will be best that the Filipino people pressure the next President so that he/she will know that he/she needs to get his/her act together or he/she will also be next in line.

    Let this be a warning to crooked politikos and hoping (or wishing?) for more of triumphs of justice.

  25. taga cebu: it is benigs who is from down under. bencard, on well, lives in the sweet haven of exiles, far from the corrupt reign of marcosian spectre. mewonders why he beats me up for seeking jocjoc head? kuya mo ba siya, ben? nagtatanong lang po.

  26. taga, wrong geography. i’m not “down under”. maybe you’re confusing me with benignO. i’m in u.s. of a. then again, what do you care?

  27. t d c:

    i think bencard’s american. it’s benign0 who writes from down under.

    i really loved villa-ignacio’s proclamations that the verdict proves that no one is above the law.

    i want to see the sandiganbayan work with “uncharacteristic speed” on an arroyo crony.

  28. Arbet:

    AM not sure what you meant when you say

    “Say that to the EDSA Dos Crowd”

    DO you mean that since they’re the one who put Erap in that position, and now they’re at the Sandiganbayan supporting him, that they should be chided for it?

    All I am saying really is we should just accept the verdict and not try to put any more spin into it. He was charged and prosecuted, he was defended and a verdict was given. That’s it.

  29. ricelander, logic could demonstrate it either way, right or wrong. it depends on the premise, i.e., right premise, right logic; wrong foundation, wrong conclusion. there is such a thing as fallacious “logic”, is there not? i think erap’s conviction is in accordance with the due process of law.

  30. “Why bother having these institutions in place if we do not want to believe in the verdict rendered anyway. We might as well just dissolve these institutions that were put in place and spend the money on other worthy endeavors.”

    This happened too when everyone went berserk when Congress failed to impeach Arroyo back in 2005. It brings up the question of why people would vote for their representatives in the Legislature AND THEN not respect the resolutions they pass. Or for that matter, why have the Legislature in the first place?

    Even in the practice of “democracy”, Pinoys are pakitang-tao. We fund all these “democratic institutions” with hard-earned taxes (para lang masabing we have them) yet show no inclination to channel our “democratic exercises” through them. Instead we would rather more gleefully work AROUND them by gathering in the streets to dance the ocho-ocho while chanting the political slogans of our favourite politicians.

    I wrote back in 2005:

    Who votes disobedient representatives into congress in the first place? Would a smart (or at the very least sane) person appoint a pedophile to watch over her kids? A government officiated by fools in a democracy merely reflects the fools who exercised their rights to vote to put them there. This is but another bout of this selective amnesia that Filipinos are world-renowned for. The “enlightened” wash the stupidity of the masses off their hands, proclaiming “I did not vote for those fools”. Ironic, that the very same elite who are among the most die-hard defenders of “democracy” and “free” elections would shrink away from accountability over the outcome of the very system they worship.

    See the full article here:

    Same principle with this whole vacuous debate about The Verdict. Why bother with The System if we’re gonna be back on the streets dancing the ocho-ocho again in protest of whatever “justice” was delivered?

    Pinoy nga naman talaga. 😀

  31. ” i’m not “down under”…. . i’m in u.s. of a. then again, what do you care?bencard”

    tama ka tol’…

  32. Fine, what were the premises? What were the foundations? Did the conclusions proceed logically from those premises? Simple as that!

    You say, there is such a thing as fallacious logic. We do not call them logical. We simply call them fallacy.

  33. If inded there were pressure on Sandiganbayan, its the Erap camp who is more obvious in doing so…Did the people really extend Erap their “mercy”? Then why there is no people in the streets like what the Erap camp has been threatening. If EDSA 3 is really a genuine people power, why dont the gather again in EDSA now that their
    “hero” is convicted?

  34. “This is but another bout of this selective amnesia that Filipinos are world-renowned for. Benigno!”

    How about your long bout of INFERIORITY COMPLEX.Can you do us a favor please?solve this first!

  35. “there is such a thing as fallacious “logic”, is there not?Bencard”

    It’s called OXYMORON in the U.S of A!

  36. CVJ,

    Of course I know about Chavit s immunity being the prosecutions start witness.

    This only shows to me that thos who really evidence against Gloria can also do Chavit. That is if they really have it.

  37. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Thursday said the government is “required to comply” with its obligations in the controversial national broadband contract with Chinese firm ZTE Corp.

    The contract, signed last April, has been hit by allegations of graft, with the country’s top election official accused of offering bribes to have the project approved. Chinese loans tied to the deal have also been criticized as adding to the government’s revenue woes.

    “We must be a government that honors contracts and agreements that go through the required processes, despite media attacks. We must be a government that abides by what the courts of the land decide on matters of dispute,” Mrs Arroyo said in a speech delivered before the Bishops-Ulama Conference-Military-Police Forum.”

    I can understand HER perspective.Abalos agrees 100% also.

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

    Diosdado Macapagal