Gratuitous punishments

Courtesy of the BBC, a portrait of Convicted Estrada’s tranquil jail (hat tip to how now, brownpau? who also deserves a prize for most startling Estrada-related image).

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ in his column, explains what the crime of plunder is, and points out that unless accompanied by conditions, a convict can’t refuse a pardon:

Incidentally, Estrada has already said that he will not accept pardon. It is worth noting, however, that only conditional pardon requires acceptance.

An absolute pardon becomes effective even if not accepted.

Amando Doronila says the Estrada conviction sets the stage for an uneasy Arroyo post-presidency, to put it mildly (bloggers such as Careless Thoughts express similar sentiments). In my column today, Estrada’s ghost army, I do point out that things have reached the point where Estrada’s wrongdoings look like small potatoes compared to the goings-on in the present government (and you only have to look at the ZTE deal, a huge can of worms).

It was also significant, I thought, that even as Estrada faced conviction in court, political leaders were practically falling over themselves to be seen with him, or at least to let everyone (including, most of all, Estrada himself) know they sympathized with the man. In contrast, the President had hunkered down in the Palace with her cabinet, and no one was making a beeline to see and be seen at Fortress Malacanang. This is a pretty galling indication of just who, exactly, the political class thinks will be more relevant come 2010. With relevance comes influence.

Going back to Estrada’s crimes and punishment. In Inquirer Current, I tackled two points of view. To understand the rise and fall of Estrada, and his subsequent (partial) political rehabilitation since then, can be explained by means of a simple axiom: you do not kick a man when he is down. I also discussed something a UP Prof., Prospero de Vera, said on TV yesterday: the Filipino concept of justice is one of restitution and not retribution.

The former presidents of South Korea imprisoned for crimes much more serious than those for which Joseph Estrada was convicted, were imprisoned for only a year before being pardoned. The justification for the pardons goes to the heart of the position I personally held, vis-a-vis the decision to detain Estrada in the first place.

In conversations I had during that time, I remember saying I opposed his being thrown in jail upon the filing of charges. My reasons were simple. I felt that he deserved consideration both as a former president, and because he’d relinquished power without bloodshed. Of course a lot of counter-arguments were made, the rule of law, etc., etc., but I felt that it would be perceived as kicking a man when he’s down, and that a newly-installed government whose legitimacy rested on a pretty unsatisfactory Supreme Court decision, was in a poor position to insist on an inflexible application of legal procedure. It was reckless and imprudent to ferociously apply the law when your legality hasn’t had time to be fully settled.

Had Estrada been left in the comfort of his North Greenhills home, placed, perhaps, under house arrest, then carted to and from the venue of his trial, you wouldn’t have had Edsa Tres. I wish I could locate Fr. Bernas’s column where he pointed out that Estrada’s status as a prisoner was sui generis, and thus couldn’t properly be compared to that of an ordinary felon. His legal argument was made long after the Estrada arrest, if I recall correctly.

In light of what Prof. de Vera said, which I think is very true, and in view of the South Korean experience, it might also be more productive to revisit the law penalizing plunder, and refocus it on enabling the authorities to recover ill-gotten wealth from officials. That satisfies the requirements of justice; it avoids turning erring officials into martyrs; and it addresses a reality we all know: money is power. Conviction, in and of itself, carries great symbolic weight; beyond confiscation of ill-gotten wealth or property, any further punishment for an elected official is gratuitous.

Of course, there are those who’d strongly disagree (the conviction is “one point for the thinking Filipino,” says Blowing My Mind Off). See Erap verdict and our affair with the law by Miriam Coronel Ferrer (who is more inclined for a “rule orientation”) and Guilty! But Special Concessions for Accused Show Flawed System, by Karen Tiongson-Mayrina.

Blogger chizjarkace thinks Estrada’s still exactly in the same position he was before the verdict. Rasheed’s World thinks the conviction has less impact because not only does Chavit Singson remain scott free, but it remains to be seen whether similar high-profile cases can even get off the ground (ricelander expresses similar thoughts; Philippine Experience wonders if those who went after Estrada would go after the President with equal vigor). A good way of seeing how one case can point to a larger injustice is in Exposing a Corrupt Prosecution and Trial in Alabama, in Harper’s Magazine’s blog:

Like tin-horned Central American dictators of old, the Bush crew believes that it can and should use the criminal justice system to take out its political enemies. It does this in a brazen way. And it has no shortage of ostensibly independent helpers to see its schemes along on their merry way. When the story is fully told, the “independent” players will be exposed as not remotely independent. This was an across-the-board systems failure.

This cautionary note (no legal system is immune from the risks of being used for partisan ends) brings up another. Charles Cunningham’s The Residencia in Spanish Colonies explores (with a particular focus on the Philippines) the Spanish colonial institution of the audit of officials as soon as they left office, or embarked to take on a new one. Praiseworthy in its intentions, in practical terms it proved a disaster. As Cunnigham wote, in the conclusion of his paper:

The residencia was essentially a Spanish institution. Its principles were inherited from the Romans. It was adapted through three hundred years to the needs of a vast colonial empire. It cannot be said that it was a success. Its purpose was to deter government officials from abuses rather than to inculcate a sincere desire on their part to fulfill the duties of their offices conscientiously and justly. The necessity for the residencia would have been eliminated by a more careful selection of men for offices. The residencia was the culmination of a period of service in an office which had been purchased, usually, and which was not regarded as an opportunity for service but as a means of yielding the greatest possible profit to its holder. Aside from the obvious defects of such a system, the residencia came too late in the period of service, held as it was at the end of the term. It sought to punish offenders and correct evils rather than to prevent them. This was the most serious fault of the residencia.

Still, going back to my proposal to revisit the plunder law, a system for the public audit and determination of accountability of all public officials, upon the expiration of their terms of office, might be a good option to explore as well.

Interesting observation by james_cartmire, on the Escuderos:

on a different note, i’m sensing the escuderos are positioning themselves to become part of the coalition majority soon. whether it’s in preparation for 2010 or just to gain power favors from malacañang, i don’t know, but they are recently sounding off something intriguingly ‘pro-administration’.

representative salvador escudero (chiz’s father) for one has been vocal on giving pointers to gma that borders political objectivity and classic butt-kissing-in-denial. in one news stroy i read last week (i just can’t recall what story it was exactly), the older escudero was advising gma on what he thinks she ought to do with a rather non-oppositionist tone. and on another occassion, he repeatedly praised health secretary francisco duque during a budget hearing; he commended duque and said that he should really should consider replacing presidential spokesperson ignacio bunye, since he was successfully able to explain the rationale of their budget request, unlike gma’s ‘spokespersons’ who often only make a situation worse for her by not being able to clearly explain and/or coming off as arrogant.

the younger escudero, chiz, on the other hand, has been reportedly working very close with gma’s economic team on pursuing malacañang’s legislative agenda on macroeconomic affairs in the senate (finance secretary margarito teves said so). hmm.. i guess we’ll hear more of the escuderos soon enough.

Latest news is that Jose Ma. Sison is due to be released from detention, but the dissatisfaction of his admirers with those who approved of the arrest will long endure. As we have no names puts it,

I can only look at the context of those blog writers. It did not surprise me one bit when I discover that these writers are also those who support Tuition and Other Fee Increases, the intensified exploitation of foreign corporations of our natural resources, and show a double standard when it comes to the violation of the rights’ of UP students (yes, they get all sanctimonious with the death of Cris Mendez, but show indifference to Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, showing that if you’re a Leftist, its ok for them if you get killed). In short, I can only express regret how certain people, under the cloak of “freedom of speech” propagate the most malicious of the Arroyo Regime’s propaganda.

UPDATE: Joma Sison Release from prison an hour ago in Scheveningen. Live photos!

Bankok Pundit wonders how a Thai general can express admiration for Mao Zedong.

Czechews reports residency permits are going to be easier to obtain, because of a shortage of skilled labor. OFWs will most likely explore this option soon enough.

Lighter reading: reason is the reason on funerals. In Fraternam Meam on the debate (reaching the courts) on who invented (ugh!) Karaoke.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

205 thoughts on “Gratuitous punishments

  1. mlq3,

    Please elaborate. Who are “those laying siege”? Haven’t they gone home? Is there still a siege? Aren’t we “drowning in our own filth” yet? Because the siege broke not because the beseiged was strong but because those laying siege were weak?

  2. “right on. there’s some hypocrisy going on in this blog. how can this country go forward if evidences of heinous plunder and corruption committed by a president using her office, could not generate a feeling of outrage against that person among some apparently “reasonable” and educated citizens. the limited understanding of the so-called masa (who are ruled by emotion rather than reason) is understandable. but the continuous effort by people, not proven to be insane, more particularly in the profit-seeking media, to defend and justify the president and her allies really boggles the mind.

    btw, the immense stolen wealth ( Marcos ill-gotten wealth, fertilizer fund, Philhealth funds, OWWA funds, Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. kickbacks, etc…) would have been a real boon to philippine economy. collected and handled properly, think of the number of school houses, textbooks, rural hospitals, micro-financing, and medicine and food for the real needy and disabled, among others, that the money can be put to use.”

  3. MLQ3:

    As a historian,can you give me plausible reasons why some of our recent Presidents do not have an eye on how history will judge them and instead indulge in monumental kleptocracy?I know at least three presidents who had thrown caution to the wind and and engage in monumental plunder.I would appreciate
    your views as well as those of other bloggers.

  4. “do you see the clear pattern, guys? some people try to water-down the gravity of gloria arroyo’s sins, deflecting it by focusing on the alleged sins of estrada and the opposition. all kinds of appeal to the emotion, e.g., the list of economic achievements compiled by gma, etc. which remain to be felt by the people; the nauseating repetition of the charges of the opposition’s destabilizing acts;the laughable claim that the country is in “better shape” every day that gma is president;the wild claim that the House of Representatives’ dismissal of the impeachment cases was a “democratic act”; the implication that the AFP top brass are independent of gma; the stupid threat to “prosecute” some personalities in the opposition about the Aragoncillo spy case (prosecute for what?), etc., etc., are all designed to hide and deodorize gloria arroyo’s stench of depravity so they can continue lionizing her as a “heroine” without thumbing their nose. what a sorry pair!”

  5. mlq, i’m a bit bothered by statements like “Erap’s wrongdoings are small potatoes compared to the goings on in the Arroyo administration”. I just hope statements like that were not meant to deaden the gravity of Erap’s sins. Probably the sins of Arroyo’s would perhaps eclipse that of Erap’s but these remain to be proven and these should not supplant the public’s rightful indignation to such a heinous crime already proven in a court of law. At this point, Erap is convicted and we should take it as it is. For crying out loud, he has amassed such unimaginable wealth while proclaiming to be one for the masses. Court’s finding of fact: in the Jose Velarde account alone: 3.2BILLION PESOS. Tell that to the man on the street who receives 200 pesos a day.

    DJB: “If a Supreme Court decision is not unanimous, Erap will be acquitted. Must be acquitted. That is the way our Justice system works.”

    Unanimous? where did you get that? Rule 125 of the Rules of Court says differently.

  6. DJB: “Constitutional “Beyond reasonable doubt” must be established for Edsa Dos itself, because this is now a capital criminal case, not a Constitutional fantasy case.

    The plunder appeal case ought to be called “Estrada vs. Davide” or “Chief Executive vs. Chief Justice” and will be a defining educational moment for us all, not just the hapless Supreme Court.”

    What are you talking about? Are you saying Edsa Dos is a crime in itself where proof must be established beyond reasonable doubt? Or just plain misapplication as metaphors?

  7. pinoy, those laying siege? take your pick. and all for different reasons both good and bad. i don’t believe the siege was ever lifted, what seems more realistic is that there have been lulls. not least because you can also be besieged in your mind, for example hunkering down prior to the verdict, when there didn’t seem reason to be so frightened.

    tagacotta, it’s the law of diminishing expectations. i’ve qoted a fp editorial from the 50s often enough: w’eve seen relying on officials to draw a private line between right and wrong isn’t enough; but even as the law tries to draw a clearer line between right and wrong (for ex. there is political behavior that 50 years ago would have been ok, but since then is no longer ok), the things that promote that clear line are weaker. it goes something like this: it no longer matters if you have a majority mandate, you only need a bigger minority than everyone else to be president. this makes you weaker, as president, from day one; it also leaves less of an incentive to mount a truly popular campaign, it leaves no incentive for political consensus, too. so the fight becomes even more vicious in a sense, and wit no one feeling they have to fear the public, impunity gets even more intense. when you come to think of it, estrada bragging he had 40% to be president is a pathetic claim to make in a democracy, yet what’s even more pathetic is fvr couldn’t even manage him before that, and for gma to claim the same percentage in 04 required an effort that denied her the legitimacy of victory (for a significant chunk of the electorate).

  8. siu, to clarify: i neither condone nor excuse estrada’s wrongdoings. his conviction was a point of no return. the old (very asian, mind you) tradition once, once out of power, a leader, so long as he left successors alone, was put out to pasture and no vendettas pursued. but that was tenable so long as leaders themselves maintained a certain level of self-control (a pan-asian grave sin is to be “garapal” when it comes to anything: power, vices, wealth, etc.). since self-control seems beyond the political class, then we now have institutionalized vendettas, the relentless and remorseless getting-even with leaders once they leave office, which can be viewed as a kind of last-ditch effort by society to even things out.

    the point of no return having been reached, the incumbent will experience what her predecessor’s experienced. and what her successor will experience too, unless he or she proves capable of self-control and a (not even very high) level of enlightenment.

  9. “Erap’s wrongdoings are small potatoes compared to the goings on in the Arroyo administration”. – mlq3

    Siu, not sure what his intent was, but i took Mlq3’s statement to be more about Arroyo than about Erap which is why i am not ‘bothered’. I do think that those who opposed Erap in 2001 but don’t oppose Arroyo with the same level of passion should be bothered. The EDSA Dos Crowd got what it wanted – Erap’s conviction, but in the process, it lost its basis for moral indignation as many of them are revealed to be hypocrites.

  10. MLQ3:In your opinion,do presidents ever think”What will history say about my presidency?” If you were a president with this perspective you would strive to be a great president.

    I don’t want to sound patronizing,but I consider MLQ and RM our only great presidents.What made them so different from the current crop.

    Pls.explain further,it really bugs me.The difference between MLQ/RM and Macoy/Earp/ate Glo is like the difference between Abraham Lincoln/George Washington/John Kennedy and Nixon/Bushie the 2nd.

    your views pls!THANKS!

  11. cjv, you will recall in 2005 a point i made was, if one opposed estrada in 2000-2001, then one has to consistently apply the both the diagnosis and the cure to his successors. for myself, i joined in the call for him to resign, i made a similar call for his successor to resign. i supported people power during edsa dos, of course i supported it in 05-06. i welcomed impeachment in 00, of course i welcomed it in 05 and 06. in 00-01 it could have failed, in 05-06 it failed, but that doesn’t invalidate (from my personal point of view) advocating similar things both times.

    personally i find it superficial to say estrada deserved one thing, and say gma should be exempted from the same thing, simply because she has better manners and a superior work ethic. and while i recognize that others believe the economy is a sufficient reason to demonstrate a double standard, i also have the right to believe demonstrating that double standard can only have a bad long-term effect on the economy, etc.

  12. mlq3, yes i remember. in fact, it was your column about the need for consistency (as well as Anna de Brux’s later comment about taking a stand) is what finally converted me to the opposition. Without it, i’d probably be more like Rego.

  13. taga, all presidents, i think, are obsessed with history. i mean imagine, only one person every generation gets elected to the highest office, you have to think you’re destiny’s child.

    both mlq and rm had more of a positive than a negative impact and their faults aside, they knew how power is best kept. but personally i also believe they had an incredibly negative impact in that their colossal success inspired a desire for one-upsmanship on the part of their successors.

    at the end of the day you’ll find no one can really say they knew a president really well, it’s particularly true for mlq and rm, and even fm. it’s an irony of democratic leadership: even leaders widely admired in their time are essentially opaque, you can never know how or why they managed to do what they did. this is a fundamental balancing act of power: being many things to many people, yet having an identity people think they understand, identify with, can follow, support, obey, collaborate with, etc.

    so if you’re a student of power, which every succesful politician has to be, you might think you’re taking away certain lessons from observing a leader but that leader isn’t going to show you, or posterity, their cards. you will only be guessing what hand they were dealt and then how they played that hand. if what you keep seeing is a champion poker player, in turn it will depend on how you view the game. a person who likes to play a fair game, will think championships are won by skill; cheaters will assume everyone plays with marked cards.

    it’s the only way we can make sense of the world or else we’ll go crazy, we always have to break down the world into manageable rules of thumb. we have to name everything, classify everything, identify or imagine rules that places us within the larger universe: you believe either god or science makes the world go round, whichever you believe makes your life manageable (going to mass every day or accepting darwin’s theory of evolution).

    i think political behavior’s like sexuality: is everyone gay or straight, or do most people fall within a sort of flexible continuum ranging from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual behavior, with only a minority permanently stuck at either end of the spectrum? politicians are like that. it’s not president a is a saint, president b is a demon, it’s more likely that given any presidential day, opportunities are plenty to be angelic or demonic but the reality is, most actions take place within a grey area.

    but whether you call it destiny or historical necessity or plain old chance, there are times when you will have to face the choice of doing good or evil, the best any president can hope to do is to have done more good than wrong, or enough good to tip the scales in favor of a forgiving/understanding posterity than one that thinks you were a total screwup. even the scale of behavior will change over time, particularly as generations come into their own, who never had personal contact with a leader.

    ironically, though, it’s easier for us to try to get a grip on past personalities, because more often than not they put down their thoughts on paper, today, fewer leaders do; also, as the private space for officials shrinks, there’s even less of an incentive for politicians to leave anything tangible to posterity, as far as their thoughts are concerned.

  14. MLQ3:Thank you so much!I pity the descendants of presidents who screwed up (or are currently screwing up the country).I know it’s not their fault BUT its like having Hitler as your family name and defending your lolo Adolph .

    Oh well,”plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” — the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Manolo:thanks again!

  15. tagacotta, an additional analogy those who are more into sports than i am, might want to explore.

    all things being equal, an athlete plays to win. sometimes you hear criticisms of athletes because it seems that’s all they care about, not even how they play the game. often you hear the complaint couched in generational terms: in the old days, they were more gentlemanly, today, the game’s played viciously, etc.

    but then as now the goal was to win, because that’s the only way to gauge success. it’s a rare player who is consoled by the though that a string of defeats will inspire respect not only among players, but spectators.

    but time marches on; the technology of game playing changes; the players change. tennis was played with players in long pants and sweaters once upon a time; today there are graphite rackets; golf was more genteel than today’s graphite hi-tech club-wielding golfers play it; even poker is spectator sport. if jaworski, who was far from being an inspiring example of chivalry on the court becomes the benchmark for future players, then you reach a point of no return.

  16. MLQ3: i hope I am not bothering you too much on a weekend!

    pls explain:both mlq and rm had more of a positive than a negative impact and their faults aside, they knew how power is best kept. but personally i also believe they had an incredibly negative impact in that their colossal success inspired a desire for one-upsmanship on the part of their successors.

    what’s the incredibly negative impact of Quezon and Magsaysay on their infamous successors like MAcoy,erap and Ate Glo???

  17. tagacotta, success in and of itself, specially when spectacular, can inspire such a lust among those who want it in turn, that they won’t bother thinking that there has to be some positive reasons for the success besides obviously negative factors.

    if you take mlq for example, someone will see an aggressive mestizo relishing pomp and power, without realizing the hard work it requires, or how for every instance of his shouting hoy puneta at someone was balanced with his taking up the cudgels even for political opponents, if he felt the opponent was unfairly treated, without necessarily doing it just for p.r. purposes. or, having committed errors or injustices, he’d try to rectify it, if not sooner, than later. but precisely because some of the mitigating behavior might have been done behind the scenes out of sincerity, the public, much less aspiring politicians, will never see it, or, even knowing it, will pass it off as posturing and nothing substantial. but it is is.

    with rm they saw a vigorous person engaged in a frenzy of activity, who used force and convincing people in equal measure, or a lot of charisma, and it’s easy to think it’s all ok if you have charisma or if you do inspections and hire and fire people on the spot, without obtaining larger lessons, such as: support can’t always be bought, obedience or cooperation doesn’t always require brute force or an overpowering presence, that the best propaganda is not one that relies on lies, but harnesses some basic truths.

    i tend to be very critical of fm but he had some great gifts: he knew the power of having a vision and communicating it; he was an excellent judge of character, he knew how to delegate. he worked hard (though maybe not as hard as people thought), and it got him elected twice and even when his popularity had evaporated, he harnessed the public mood effectively enough to be given the benefit of the doubt when he became dictator. one account i’ve read is that if he’d relinquished power in 1975 or 1978, he would have been not just the greatest but most beloved leader in our history, with glory and riches. but then, what choice did he have, but to pursue the power game to its bitter end? maybe ends, incidentally, mlq and rm would have porsued, but fate was kinder: it claimed their lives in office. but there is one ultimate failing fm had, which i strongly believe mlq and rm didn’t have: and that was, a consciousness of the need to groom successors prepared for high office. cory aquino had that failing, too, fvr had, to a limited degree, that insight into the responsibilty of power. jee lacked it, too, and gma both by force of circumstance and inclination, isn’t too interested in it, either.

  18. Pinoy,

    The desired result was for the public to believe that Erap’s conviction was not a miscarriage of justice. If the public believed that justice was served by his conviction then that would be one thing less dividing us.

    I said this in another blog: Erap succeeded in portraying himself as the underdog and that negated any chance that the public will be one in accepting his conviction as just.

    We remain divided. The conviction did not produce closure. The bickering continues.

  19. I don’t see anybody in the political horizon having the charisma and the leadership values of MLQ and RM.

    We had our fair share of Great Leaders who could have been GREAT Presidents:NINOY,DIOKNO,TANADA … but destiny assigned them much more important roles in our history.

    have nice weekend MLQ3

  20. mlq,I accept your clarification, but perhaps if you happen to misread my earlier comment; I did not accuse you of condoning Erap’s wrong doings nor am I consenting to that “double-standard” you spoke of. In fact, from where I sit, I would rave at seeing both of them share the same cell.

    Regarding your culture-laced “vendetta” thing – I see the point but I must say, in the current state of things – its not a one-way street.

  21. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” — the more things change, the more they stay the same!

    Marcos….Erap….Ate Glue…

  22. Who says na nabubuhay tayo sa alpha at omega na erap and gloria?
    less than 3 years na lang. kung sa next administration ay ayusin na ang two party system para masolve na din ang usapan sa palakihan ng minority,konti na lang ang kagaya ni devils na Roco siya all the way,kahit di winnable nung last time bumoto sya.

    Malaking adjustment din itong two party system kung ayaw mo sa dalawa lamang ang pagpipilian.

    Ok na yan minsan nga ayaw mo lahat ng kanidato kahit lima pa sila.

  23. A SWOT analysis of Mar Roxas:


    -”De Buena Familia”;part of the influential/very wealthy Araneta/Roxas poltical clan.
    -Favorite of Philippine Wall Street(”Ayala Ave”)
    -Rated K support.
    -Senatorial Topnotcher
    -”Mr.Palengke “projected image
    -authorship of the Cheaper Medicine bill

    -”Spineless”in crisis(quickly disappears and leaves for abroad when he needs to make a stand).
    -No political organization(what’s the Drilon wing of the Liberal party right now?)


    Among the the current 2010 presidentiables”,Mar Roxas appears to be most decent.He can be trusted.No taint of scandal/corruption at all.

    Mar Roxas can become the most trusted political leader as soon as he finds his TRUE NORTH. Mar,Speak from the heart,not from the brain all the time.Feel the pain and real agony of the suffering Filipino masses)

    THREATS:The Lacsons and Gordons of this world project an image of “CAN DO/WILL DO’ leaders who the masses might desperately cling to.

    We also have the political chameleons waiting in the wings.They can become oppositionists or administration depending where the political winds blow?

    Where will Mar Roxas be in this wide spectrum of political animals? Is he willing to be a leader with the real interests of the people in his heart?will he finally be FOR the people at all times???

  24. mb,

    :”The conviction did not produce closure.”

    What verdict would have? Would acquital have brought closure? Was it the verdict, who were rendering the verdict, Erap, the circumstances surrounding the verdict or there was no closure because of the GMA factor in the verdict?

    What would have hoped for to bring closure? What should be done?

  25. pasensya na manolo,sagutin ko lang si tdc

    taga de cebu,

    salamat!Inaamin ko i have to look it up.pasensya na.

    10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

    I appreciate it!

  26. mlq3,
    :”not least because you can also be besieged in your mind,”

    GMA has coped well, it seems, with this siege mentality. After all, she’s still in power and on top of the situation while her adversaries are in disarray, differing in motivation though seemingly united in ousting her.

  27. Bubby Dacer,
    Aside from being the publicist of FVR, he also is the publisher of the Customs publication:the customs Week:
    Diyan pa lang international na ang kalaban at kakampi mo,madami syang kalaban at kaalyado from hutchinsons,Russian maffia,rival port operators,sgs.customs officials,including other journalists.

    Unfortunately one way to build PR,you also have to destroy others.

    Kung sino man nasagasaan ni Dacer,sigurado madami yon.

    Di rin natin marring ibale wala ang evidence na hawak niya sa BW na ihahatid dapat nya sa Manila Hotel ke FVR.

    Tama yung comment ko, na lahat naman ng pamilya ng naconvict napahiya at one point in time,correct ka dyan(was it rego?)

    Retribution: sinubukan natin ibalik ang lethal injection:prolife naman ang umangal

    mukhang lahat ng sitwasyon me aangal,kanya kanyang national interest.

    di naman daw kaya mabawan ang crime rate,pano daw kung inosente eventually.



    Our number of court case,backlogs lalo lang lumalaganap ang aregluhan and the justice department is even encouraging amicable setlements.

    but restitution is more than amicable settlements at acceptable to both parties,it still demands an equivalent reparation of sorts.

    The tanay instead of munti decision although we are not required to copy other countries, was the precedent.
    If that is the standard for current or former presidents,then make it a standard.At least sana yan man lang ang magandang kinalbasan ng trial.

    pero matagal pa nga yan mag aapeal pa sa Sc yan.

    at sa ayaw at sa gusto natin malilimutan din natin itong issue na ito hanngang lumamig at uminit ulit.

  28. pinoy,

    You wouldn’t be asking those questions if the thing was handled well.

    A golden opportunity to restore the public’s faith in our institutions was wasted.

    The whole trial, the verdict was about the personalities and camps pitted against each other.

    The public was focused on the politics of the case and not on the merits of the case.

    Could the verdict have led to closure? I think so.

    Maybe if the entire trial was televised then the public would have been able to draw their conclusions from the trial itself rather than on the spin about the trial that was peddled by both sides. They would have been able to witness the process firsthand rather than be told about what was happening.

    I don’t know about you but I don’t know whether Erap is guilty of some, all, or none of the charges. I cannot base my opinion on the Sandigan decision because everything written there is in support of their verdict. Now if I saw the trial and I was able to make my own evaluation of the prosecution and the defense then I will have my own verdict.

    So you see it’s not the verdict itself that would have brought closure. It was the handling, the presentation if you will, of the entire thing. If it was handled well I think the public would have accepted whatever verdict was arrived at.

  29. The conviction of Estrada was a foregone conclusion, everyone knew it, even Erap himself, and the question that will forever linger on the legal circles, was it constitutional? Was his trial for crimes while not impeached and convicted by congress legally binding and will hold up to challenge or appeal? Watch out, if and when that SC justices are staffed with wiser men and women, that judgement against Erap will be reversed, not because he didn’t commit plunder or not guilty as charged, but because he should have not been charged and tried in the first place.. that is the contitution and it was violtated…

  30. Bencard said: “…how can this country go forward if a conclusive finding, beyond reasonable doubt, of heinous plunder committed by a president using his office, could not generate a feeling of outrage against that person among some apparently “reasonable” and educated citizens. the limited understanding of the so-called masa (who are ruled by emotion rather than reason) is understandable. but the continuous effort by people, not proven to be insane, more particularly in the profit-seeking media, to defend and justify the convict really boggles the mind.”

    Bencard, I think I know why. Maybe its because a considerable number of us Filipinos are stupid ‘masochists’.
    Our collective asses have gotten so used to getting screwed by crooked politicians since the Marcos era,
    that some of us had started to enjoy in bending over to get screwed some more.

    What do you suppose will happen the moment Erap gets pardoned?

    Here’s what, I’m afraid, most probably would happen:
    The moment another ‘big fish’ in government gets caught and convicted for the crime of plunder, he or she would simply
    point out Erap’s case and expects to get a pardon, too.

  31. mlq3,

    As it turned out, your idea for Erap to run for senate was the better option for him. But he’s now convicted. Can he still run for the presidency on 2010? Or any public office for that matter?

  32. mlq3, it never cease to amaze me how you can state, with apparent confidence, that public opinion doesn’t view estrada’s conviction for the heinous crime of plunder a triumph of justice. i’m sure you’ll invoke sws surveys paid for by his friends (probably with part of the plundered loot)that has become a big joke. if you so much as have said opinion of his followers from the captive constituencies, multiple families, and the leeches living off his blood, i would have agreed with you. but to claim public opinion in its entirety, i don’t believe the majority of the filipinos is so indifferent and callous, if not perverted, as to call it “unjust” to convict and mete out appropriate punishment to a criminal. if that is the case, we don’t need a benignO to show us why we really have a hopeless problem as a people.

    your 30% alleged estrada diehards could very well prevail over a 70% apathetic electorate who just give up and leave the country to the wolves. this doomsday scenario cannot happen without the goading of the profit-seeking media who does a good job, as rego put it, “mak(ing) the bad look good and the good look bad”. even ostensibly reasonable people could be frustrated by perception of general malaise and hopelessness, especially when fed on them day and day out.

    blood debts? what the hell are you talking about? are you referring to pgma’s war against the rebels and bandits preying on those who would stay inside the law? or is it the killings or incarcerations that result in the enforcement of the law? reprisals and vendettas are to be expected from people who were thwarted in their nefarious ways, but for you to sound ominous as though pgma has it coming is unfair, if not dangerous. she has nothing to be concerned about as far as revenge is concerned. time and again, she has shown that she is not faint-hearted and i know she’ll be supported and protected by righteous and fair-minded citizens, and, of course, by the rule of law, the great equalizer as was just proven.

    mb, i don’t think we can achieve unity by getting rid of gma. her true admirers (estimated by manolo at 25%) will not stand idly by without lifting a finger. that, plus the hundreds of thousand of thoughtful people who are ruled by reason rather than emotion.

    dirk pitt, congratulations. you got my attention. i see you’re a patient typist and excellent plagiarist. do you have a mind of your own? btw, i read clive cussler. his character (your name sake) is not a dumb ass.

  33. justice league,

    Was Erap a victim of a mistrial? Or are you raising ‘prejudicial questions’ about the trial? Are you questioning the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction over the case or Erap for that matter? Is the impeachment the proper venue? Is there a legal, moral, political question on how the case tried in the aborted impeachment proceeding became a case under the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction? What is the legal and constitutional remedy? Is the trial a ‘fruit of the poisoned tree’? one fruit among so many that Davide’s “extra-constitutional remedy” must be constitutionally remedied to normlize the administration’s legitimacy problem? or remedied by an execersice of the sovereign will of the people via a snap election?

  34. Mlq3,
    Amando Doronilla thinks that Erap’s conviction “sets the stage for an uneasy Arroyo post-presidency”, as in: GMA is next.

    Amnesty will be the main issue in the 2010 elections – amnesty for either or both Erap and GMA. An amnesty vs accountability showdown is best judged via the exercise of the sovereign will of the people.

    A presidentiable who can deal amnesty for both in exchange for exclusive support takes the lead in the run for the presidency. Packaged under a platform of ‘reconciliation’, ‘moving on’, ‘saving the gains of the economy’, ‘new beginning’, ‘national renewal’, and ‘a vision for a better tomorrow’, amnesty for Erap and GMA is a powerful political initiative to an electorate that is sick and tired of adversarial politics.

    Prior to the verdict, I imagined a snap election scenario where Erap and GMA deals a declared platform of mutual amnesty. GMA accedes to a snap and Erap escapes the impending verdict. The exercise of the sovereign will of the people, I think, is the key to solving the constitutional and political puzzle. (A snap is legally possible according to Fr. Bernas and as suggested by Sen Angara.) This jives with your suggestion for Erap to run for senate as a referendum on his case. But the conviction have over ran this scenario.

    Is there really a viable formula that could resolve the debilitating lingering political and constitutional crisis?

  35. pinoy, now he can’t run for dogcatcher, he can’t even sign checks, he loses his authority as a parent, even, i believe. permanent disqualification from office is one of the penalties of his conviction. i understand that once having been president, he could never run for the same office again, anyway. but now…

    the only political power he has is that of an endorser, which might make a difference in a close election, but it all depends on how the president, for example, handles things. if she refrained from anointing a successor, but quietly maneuvered to help a candidate and remained stealthy about it, estrada’s power to endorse would be reduced -because i do agree with rego that people would be happy to put both leaders out to pasture.

  36. just a note, re: trial.

    impeachment was purely a determination of whether estrada, with a constitutionally-fixed term, deserved to have his term preterminated. whether convicted or acquitted, it wouldn’t affect his facing criminal and civil charges the moment he lost his immunity as incumbent president. while in office, a president can’t be sued or any other suit filed; but once out of office, an ex-president in the eyes of the law, is subject to the legal system without any limitations.

    if estrada had won the impeachment he might still have had to face these exact same charges, in 2004, presuming a friendly successor didn’t take over.

  37. pinoy, your joint amnesty proposal would be interesting, and you might as well include the marcoses. fm, supposedly. as he lay dying, offered 90% of his wealth to the government, 10% for his familes, so he could come home to die. people ranging from enrique zobel to doy laurel to the papal nuncio were acting as intermediaries.

    if that had happened fm might have have come home to a hero’s reception, with imelda handing out wads of cash to the victims of the military.

    i believe, taking away the weath determined by the courts as ill-gotten, and then immediately releasing Estrada, would have been a no-nonsene act of justice many from the public would have found not just fine, but really just .
    it takes a president to propose anamnesty, one deliberated upon in congrerss which then approves it. It wipes the slate clean for those convicted by the special courts, and tops all other ongoing trials.

    a pardon, well, it seems nixon had the power to pardon himself. instead, his vp ford pardonixed nixon for all and charges that might arise from the evidence to be presented by Congress in the Nixon impeachment.

  38. “but once out of office, an ex-president in the eyes of the law, is subject to the legal system without any limitations”.

    That is if the Ex-President committed any violation, crime, or tort after leaving office. But in Erap case, the crime for which he was tried and convicted was committed during his tenure and that we have a process, under the fundamental law, to try a President while in office, an impeachment and trial by the senate and conviction and the punishment also provided therein. But not forced out of office by unconstitutional means and try thereafter. for the true constitutionalists, that is the issue. and looking back, there was a conspiracy against him; it was successful which gave it the appearance of legitimacy, had it not it was even a bigger crime…

  39. “Is there really a viable formula that could resolve the debilitating lingering political and constitutional crisis.”

    If we’re a smart people we’d realize that history has been preparing itself for a revolution. Institutions are weak, the middle class has practically given up (turned cynicalor stateside), the masses are demoralized and the politicians are in a moral panic, flip-flopping like crazy frogs.

  40. Idealism is being pushed overboard in this sinking ship we call Pilipinas. What else is there but revolution? Not unless anyone here thinks a country can survive without ideals and a people can stand life with the moral bedrock crumbling beneath their feet.

  41. Idealism is being pushed overboard on this sinking ship we call Pilipinas. What else is there but revolution? Not unless anyone here thinks a country can survive without ideals and a people can stand life with the moral bedrock crumbling beneath their feet.

  42. “nixon went down in total limbo, a completely broken man, never to recover in spite of a few ultra conservative zealots’ puny attempt to rewrite history. yet, he was not accused of having stolen even a buck from the national treasury, much less convicted of it.” Bencard

    is that so? what Nixon committed was some “petty” but embarrassing crimes enough for him to struck a deal w/ his vice president to resign and subsequently pardoned unconditionally w/o being charged in court?

    his petty crime?

    “Investstigations conducted by the FBI, Senate Watergate Committee, House Judiciary Committee and the press revealed that this burglary (referring to Watergate) was just one of many illegal activities authorized and carried out by Nixon’s staff. They also revealed the immense scope of crimes and abuses, which included campaign fraud, political espionage and sabotage, illegal break-ins, wiretapping on a massive scale, including the wiretapping of the press and regular citizens, and a secret slush fund laundered in Mexico to pay those who conducted these operations.[1] This secret fund was also used as hush money to buy silence of the seven men who were indicted for the June 17 break-in.[2] President Nixon and his staff conspired to cover up the break-in as early as six days after it occurred. [3] After enduring two years of mounting evidence against the President and his staff, which included former staff members testifying against them in a Senate investigation…”

    of course, these crimes are nothing compared to Estrada. afterall, “Nixon never stole even a buck from the national treasury, much less convicted of it.” (sure about that? or the media was too soft that time? where did all those fundings of illegal activities came from?) paano nga makoconvict hindi man lang nasampahan ng kaso at binigyan na ng pardon kaagad in the best interest of America daw. that’s your american justice at work or shall we say the first world justice system. but try the third world justice system and see how it works. or better yet, ask ka beltran and joma sison the difference between the two worlds.

    as for your alter (r)ego, WTF are you talking about comparing apples to tomatoes ?

  43. Pinoy,

    I have been quite engaged for some time that I have not typed any thoughts on many of the issues at hand in this blog.

    Whoever you are discussing with is not I.

  44. jl, it must be justice in waiting (his/her nick)

    “If we’re a smart people we’d realize that history has been preparing itself for a revolution. Institutions are weak, the middle class has practically given up (turned cynicalor stateside), the masses are demoralized and the politicians are in a moral panic, flip-flopping like crazy frogs.”

    And the question is only when. how long did i give the Phils? I think it was 3 yrs.

  45. Who’s the NBN MYSTERY MAN?”

    “My impression is that Chairman Abalos brought this person in to bully me, [that] hopefully I would withdraw my application,” he told the network.

    “My impression is that he was just there to muscle his way [in] and hopefully get to me so that I would back out,” De Venecia said.

    He said he found the man’s presence at the meeting to be improper but he was not sure whether what the man did “is incriminating because I don’t know whether he performed an illegal act.”

    “He was there for one meeting.”

    Asked if the man was a government official, De Venecia said he “can’t say” until he appeared at the Senate.

    He said he did not know if the man himself had received any kickbacks.

    “Probably,” De Venecia said, when asked by ANC if he thought he would be courting “big trouble” should he mention the person’s name.”

    Any guess???

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