Sunday, October 25, 2009

Erap's renewed bid for the Presidency: Can he overcome the media bias?

Defamed and deposed former Philippine President Joseph Ejercito "Erap" Estrada recently announced his bid to seek anew the country's top elective post. Predominantly "masa" supporters numbering around 10,000, as based on police estimates, flocked to the Plaza Amado Hernandez in the capital's urban poor area of Tondo for the nomination of Estrada and his running-mate in the Pwersa ng Masa and PDP-Laban coalition, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.

Erap had long indicated his desire to obtain vindication against his ouster in January 2001, done via a veiled conspiracy described by the New York Times as "the opportunist coalition of church, business elite and left [with] former presidents Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos actively [encouraging] the military to take sides against a properly elected president."

Hurdles Aplenty

Standing against Estrada's "Pagbabalik" are a bevy of daunting forces and hurdles that seem reminiscent of the resolve of the old conspirators behind "Oplan Excelsis," the Erap ouster plan reported in October 2000 by the Daily Tribune's Ninez Cacho-Olivares. One of the hurdles he has to overcome before reaching the goal of historical redemption is the formidable mainstream media, which has been instrumental in his demonization--no matter the presence of the continuing Filipino support for him as reflected in periodic survey studies. The rather unwarranted bastos tone of the interview GMA-7 anchor Mel Tiangco gave him during the evening news right after the nomination rally should tell him to prepare well for the demonization component of Part II of the anti-Estrada movement.

The seeming train of orchestrated events targeting his 2010 candidacy began this year with the April 2009 revival of the BW Resources case against supposed Estrada crony Dante Tan, which was already dismissed in 2007. Dacer-Corbito case witness and former PAOCTF agent Cesar Mancao was brought home from the United States, although they were less successful with Glen Dumlao who eventually chose to stick to his claim that he was only tortured to implicate Lacson and Estrada in the murder case.

Then around the same time, former Senate minority floor leader Nene Pimentel and former Sen. Jovito Salonga asked Erap not to run anymore in 2010 as they took turns giving their dissuading opinions that the Supreme Court wouldn't allow him to run anyway. When Erap did not listen, Salonga then appealed to the Filipino people to "respect" the Supreme Court decision, as if he's certain of what the ruling will be. Lacson came next, who asked that Erap "unite" the opposition by giving way to the candidacy of neophyte senator Noynoy Aquino. Lacson then made threats and as the ex-President refused to retreat from the race, took the Senate floor twice to try to deliver some 'bombshell' expose in order to "save the Philippines from Joseph Ejercito alias Joseph Estrada."

Media's Treatment of Estrada

Lacson's privilege speeches did not exactly turn out to be explosive--either because the statements were rehash charges or were belied by other Estrada cabinet officials. One particular point, however, caused some stir with help from the media. Lacson claimed that Estrada used "strong arm tactics" to force businessman Alfredo Yuchengco to sell his shares in the Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications back in 1998. In what appeared to be a coordinated development, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) soon ran a banner story that backs up Lacson's claims. The letter on which the story was based turned out to be unsigned.

Earlier, the PDI also towed Lacson's line when its Sept. 10 headline made it appear that Erap's refusal to give way to presidential hopeful Noynoy Aquino, the neophyte senatorial son of former President Corazon Aquino, served to 'bust' opposition unity. Daily Tribune's Cacho-Olivares had described Noynoy Aquino as the presidential candidate of the Inquirer and broadcast news entity ABS-CBN.

PDI has a seeming history of disfavor, if not animosity, towards Estrada, as seen in its almost regular description of the former President as "convicted plunderer." This, without implying in any way the questionable verdict of the special Sandiganbayan court justices, almost of whom were subsequently promoted to the Supreme Court (one is pending).

Reliable reports paint a 'kangaroo court' picture of Estrada's conviction: some two months before the verdict was handed down, veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas had reported that religious leaders Mike Velarde and Cardinal Vidal were told by Arroyo "that she wanted the Estrada trial to end in a conviction" and the decision will be released "anytime soon," respectively. The Inquirer blames Estrada for the loss of its revenues in 1999 following the pullout by certain businessmen of their advertisements in the newspaper following a series of hard-hitting articles.

Badgering Erap

Back to the rather dissuading, if not humiliating, interview conducted by GMA-7's Tiangco with Estrada. Following is a transcript of the "24 Oras" October 21, 2009 news clip entitled "Interview with Joseph Estrada":

Mike Enriquez: Magandang gabi po Mr. President. Si Mike Enriquez po ito at Mel Tiangco.

Ex-President Joseph Estrada: Magandang gabi sa iyo din kaibigang Mike.

Enriquez: Mayroon pong mga nagsasabi na hindi daw po kayo pinapayagan ng Konstitusyon na tumakbo ulit sa pagka-Pangulo. Ano pong masasabi ninyo diyan Mr. President.

Estrada: Wala. Na-konsulta na natin iyan sa mga retired justices ng Supreme Court at mga dean ng UP law school. Sila ay... masusi nilang pinag-aralan iyan at nagkaisa sila na qualified na qualified daw akong tumakbo bilang Pangulo.

Enriquez: ok, Mr. President. Ang payo nila sa inyo hindi nyo rin nilabag iyong kondisyon noong pagpapatawad na binigay sa inyo ni, o iyong tinatawag na pardon na binigay sa inyo ni Pangulong Arroyo na hindi na kayo kakandidato sa anumang posisyon na tinatawag na elective, Mr. President.

Estrada: Wala pong nakalagay dun sa dispositive portion ng pardon. Yun pong nakalagay po doon: "restoring all civil and political rights." Ang ibig pong sabihin noon, kung pwede akong bumoto, pwede rin akong butohin.

Enriquez: Opo, Mr. President. Isang tanong na lang po ako bago po si Mel Tiangco. Bukod po kay Mayor Jejomar Binay na katambal ninyo sa pagiging kandidato sa pagiging bise-presidente, mayroon ding senatorial line up na, na buo na?

Estrada: Ah, hindi pa. Siguro mayroon na kaming walo hanggang sampu.

Enriquez: Ok, Mr. President. Salamat po. Eto po si Mel Tiangco.

Tiangco: "Sir, hindi maganda ang karanasan ninyo sa Malacanang, bakit gusto n'yo pang bumalik doon?

Estrada: Ano?

Tiangco: Bakit ho gusto nyo pang bumalik sa Malacanang, eh kayo na rin ang nagkwekwento kanina na napakapangit ng experience nyo … minsang kayo ay Pangulo ng ating bansa.

Estrada: Napakapangit dahil nagsabwatan sila at ako ay napilitang bumaba. Ang katotohanan nga ay si dating Pangulong Cory Aquino ang nagssisisi kung bakit sumali siya sa EDSA 2. At ako naman ay, iyong mga programa ko para sa kapakanan ng mga mahihirap ay hindi ko nagawa kaya gusto kong ipagpatuloy.

Tiangco: Palagi ninyong nababanggit na kayo ay inosente, hindi totoo ang ang mga pinaratang sa inyo. Eh bakit po tumagal ng anim na taon Sir. Anim na taon kayong nilitis sir, di ba?

Estrada: Anim na taon nga at anim na buwan. Wala silang napatunayan na nagnakaw ako kahit na isang kusing sa kaban ng bayan. Ang totoo nga niyan ay nagtayo ng Task Force ang DOJ--lahat ng kontrata na naaprobahan sa aking administrayon ay hinimay. Himay nila at wala silang nakita na isa mang kontrata na may halong anumalya, sa ano mang kontrata.

Tiangco: Eh bakit po pardon ang naibigay sa inyo

Estrada: Ha?

Tiangco: Bakit po pardon?

Estrada: Ewan ko sa kanila.

Tiangco: Hindi po kaya sabi ng ilang diyan ay kaya nais nyo lang tumakbong muli ay para daw balikan iyong mga nagpatalsik sa inyo?

Estrada: Alam mo Mel, sa aking anim na taong ako ay nakakulong ay nalapit tayo sa panginoon. at laging pinaaalala sa akin ng panginoon iyong Lord's Prayer. Iyong ama namin. iyon mga nagkasala sa iyo ay dapat mo ring patatawarin : "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sins against us." Kaya iyan po ang malapit na malapit na parang laging pinararamdam sa atin ng ating panginoon.

Tiangco: Maraming maraming salamat po sa oras na binigay ninyo sa 24 oras. Magandang gabi po.

Estrada: Salamat, salamat Mel.

While both interviewee and interviewer remained 'polite' all throughout, vexation and put down were arguably detectable at some points in the tones of their voices or body languages.

On the point of the six-month trial and pardon, respectively, Tiangco was obviously implying that Erap was convicted and was therefore guilty of some crime and not innocent as claimed. In a politely veiled manner, the news anchor was arguing against the former President's statements.

Estrada was taken aback--as in he seemed to have been on the way to turning his back and concluding the interview were it not for another question hurled at him. Those who understand the political nature of Estrada's arrest and legal cases are aware that as far as government funds and contracts are concerned, the former President comes off clean.

The ousted leader obviously couldn't answer the "why pardon" question because to do so would be to claim that Teresita de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Francisco Villaruz Jr were kangaroo court justices, which would imply an ungentlemanly or unethical undermining of the pardon he accepted.

Tiangco very well knew what she was driving at because she's a veteran journalist who began with Channel 4 way back the Martial Law days. Established press figures like her are, in fact, well ahead of the news. By badgering Erap with such questions, is she saying that she is unaware of reports of Vidal/Velarde's knowledge of Arroyo's manipulation of the Plunder verdict? Is she saying that she does not even suspect the kangaroo court character of the Special Division of Sandiganbayan, with its two justices being subsequently promoted to Supreme Court positions (Villaruz is in the shortlist of SC nominees)? As news anchor and official of GMA-7, it can safely be assumed that her news objectivity, or lack of it, is representative of the network's own position.

'Star Struck' Interview of Noynoy

It is easier to see through the slant in Tiangco's interview if it is compared with the interview conducted with Sen. Noynoy Aquino, along with Sen. Mar Roxas, on September 21, 2009 right after the Liberal Party stalwarts formally announced their tandem for the 2010 presidential elections in Club Filipino.

Following are the questions thrown at Noynoy by Pia Arcangel and Raffy Tima based on my transcript of the "QTV: Live interview with Mar Roxas and Noynoy Aquino":

__: Kay Senador Aquino naman ho, ngayon kasado na ho ang tambalang Aquino-Roxas para sa 2010, ano sa tingin ninyo ang pagbabagong dadalhin ng inyong tandem sa election race, ika nga?

__: Hindi rin ho kayo nahirapan na kumbinsihin si Senador Roxas na maging running mate nyo, dahil sabi nga ninyo matagal na ho kayong magkaibigan ni Senador Roxas?

__: Sa tingin ninyo Senador Aquino iyong pagkakaibigan o iyong friendship malaking tulong po ito sa inyong pangangampanya at inyong pagtakbo?

__: Senador Aquino, may nakatakda po kayong pagpupulong kay dating Pangulong Estrada, di po ba? Ano po kaya ang paguusapan dito at anong changes kaya ang mangyayari kapag nagkausap kayo ni dating Pangulong Estrada?

__: Senador, may pagkakataon pa po ba kayong magkaisa ang oposisyon? Kung di man ho magkaisa sa iisang kandidato ay malimitahan yung mga kandidatong oposisyon.

__: Sen. Mar Roxas at Sen. Aquino, mapunta naman tayo sa medyo live na isyu. Eh kumusta naman po ang paghahanda sa inyong kasal, Senador Mar? Kung nagkataon eh parehong single ang pupunta sa Palasyo.

__: So next year na po si Senador Aquino?

__: Senador, mukha hong nag-eenjoy kayo sa inyong, well, friendship. At ito nga, sabi ninyo, malaking bentahe ito sa inyong pangangampanya at sa kagustuhan ninyon suportahan kayo, lalo na ng mga kabataan.

__: Senador Aquino, bukod po kay dating Pangulong Estrada, may mga balak pa po ba kayong kausapin?

__: Gaanong kalaking factor ho ngayon ang suporta ng inyong mga pamilya dito sa inyong ginawang desisyon ngayon?

Watching the Tiangco portion of the "24 Oras" interview with Erap made me cringe both from disapproval at the rather callously inappropriate line of questioning and from the discomfort of watching Erap slide from proclamation "high" into interrogation put down. Imagine the subject were not Erap but another comebacking politician who just concluded his proclamation rally--how would it sound for a news anchor to hammer on why the former public official had to run again? Wouldn't that be considered bastos by any decent journalistic standards?

Contrast the badgering Erap got with the kids' glove treatment the network gave Noynoy. Same interview format for the two presidentiables right after after their respective formal declaration of intent to run in 2010: two interviewers--female and male who hurled questions one after the other. While GMA-7 subjected ex-President Estrada to an interrogation-style interview, Sen. Aquino was accorded brattish tweetums TV time.

Is it by sheer "luck" that Noynoy was asked rather 'beautiful' questions in the tradition of "Star Struck": about his "friendship" with, and how he wooed his VP bet; and "family support" behind the decision to run? Or is it by the network's deliberate design?

Of course, the sets of interviewers were different--veterans for Erap and a little less for Noynoy--but is that an excuse for a pronounced journalistic slant? The interview with Sen. Aquino was conducted by children's program "Art Angel" host Pia Arcangel and Raffy Tima, who might be a commended news producer but is still very "soft" in interview work. It was reported by QTV, which is a television network owned by GMA Network, Inc., with the video published at the GMA News website. If the interview was not deliberately designed to be pro-Noynoy, shouldn't the network have assigned the task to the politically sharper hosts such as Tiangco and Enriquez or others?

What GMA-7 should have asked Noynoy

If the network that describes itself as "Walang Kinikilingan..." were genuinely even half as fair and non-prejudicial, it would have been as polite and tweetums in its interview with Estrada as it was with Noynoy. After all, it's hardly politically correct to turn an interview of a former leaders ousted by a conspiracy into a prosecution-style interrogation on the very occasion of the proclamation of his political comeback. Actually, such a badgering interview bordering on humiliation--given the context of the occasion--is politically incorrect regardless of who the interviewee is.

Then again, the "Kapuso" network is a proud member of the Fourth Estate tasked to serve as watchdog that ferrets out the truth and is exempted, perhaps, from the dictates of political correctness. Still, the network should have been as tough-talking and callously inquisitive in its interview with Noynoy. It would have been a lot more real and unbiased had GMA-7 asked presidentiable Noynoy questions that hewed somewhat to the following:

Host: Magandang umaga ho, Senador Aquino. Hindi po ba't humingi ng tawad ang inyong ina na si yumaong Pangulong Corazon sa kanyang naging bahagi sa pagpapatalksik kay dating Pangulong Estrada, eh bakit ho tumatakbo kaya ngayon?

Host: Hindi ho ba dapat suportahan n'yo na lang ang kandidatura ni Pangulong Erap bilang paggalang sa naging posisyon ng inyong ina?

Host: Napabalita po noon na kinausap ng inyong ina si Erap upang ipasok kayo sa line-up ng oposisyon noong 2007 elections, hindi po ba? Kinonsidera nyo ho ba ang bagay na ito sa desisyon ninyong tumakbo bilang pangulo at lumaban sa mga ibang kandidato kabilang na si dating Pangulong Estrada?

Host: Ang sabi ho ng ilan ay itinakwil ni yumaong Pangulong Aquino ang EDSA 2 nang humingi siya ng tawad kay dating Pangulong Estrada. Ano ho ang inyong posisyon? Itinatakwil nyo rin ho ba ang pangyayaring iyon sa kasaysayan ng ating bayan?

Host: Senador Aquino, bakit ho sa Club Filipino kayo nag-deklara ng inyong kahandaan tumakbo sa pagka-Pangulo sa susunod na halalan? Ginagaya ho ba natin ang nangyaring proklamasyon bilang Pangulo ng inyong ina noong 1986?

Host: Noon hong 1985 o 1986, tinanggap lamang ng inyong ina ang hamon na kumandidato laban kay Marcos nang naiprisinta na sa kanya ang isang milyong pirma na nagu-udyok sa kanyang tumakbo. Kayo ho ba ay tumatakbo dahil nakatanggap na din kayo ng kaparehong bilang ng pirma ng mga taong nais kayong lumahok sa halalan sa pagka-Pangulo sa 2010?

Host: Sinasabi ho ng ilang kritiko na hindi ho naging lubos na matagumpay and Reporma sa Lupa sa panahon ni Dating Pangulong Aquino. Ano hong ba ang gagawin ninyo tungkol sa isyung ito sakaling manalo kayo bilang Pangulo? Ano ho ang plano ninyo at ng inyong mga kamag-anak sa Hacienda Luisita?

Host: Senador Noynoy, meron pong nagsasabing hindi naman daw ho talagang maganda ang inyong legislative performance. Ano ho kaya ang magagawa ninyo bilang Pangulo sakaling mahalalal kayo?

Host: Huling tanong na laman po. Buo na ho ba ang inyong senatorial line-up?

Overcoming the Media Bias

In fairness to GMA-7, it is not the only network that has exhibited a critical tendency against Estrada. Back in 2001, it joined ABS-CBN in the demonization of the former President and the corollary celebration of the "People Power II" coup by covering the 4-day uprising practically 24/7 and running their respective 'Edsa 2 victory' video clips soon after Erap's ouster. It should be mentioned, however, that GMA-7 ran their celebratory EDSA 2 video days, if not weeks, longer than did ABS-CBN (I well took mental note of that).

Both networks can be said to be guilty of condescending treatment of the pro-Erap EDSA 3, giving it minimal coverage. It was only non-mainstream Net 25, owned by Iglesia ni Cristo," which covered "People Power 3" full time.

In other words, hindi nag-iisa ang GMA-7 in having a history of either belittling political actions of the masses or simply being biased against Estrada. Veteran journalist Rowena Carranza wrote snootily about EDSA 3, with the title saying it all: "Excuse me, Please Don't call it People Power III.' Carranza, of the print media, along with the PDI, is not alone in the tendency to negatively portray either the former President or his supporters, or both.

The TV, radio, and mainstream print media, along with the blogosphere, are littered with anti-Erap content, whether or not veiled in pretenses of objectivity. Cacho-Olivares of the Daily Tribune, a fiery but hardly mainstream media entity, laments the resurgence of the demonization of Erap in time with his renewed bid for the presidency:

"With the Erap magic still glowing, as shown by the crowd of thousands that went to Tondo to witness Erap Estrada's official declaration to run for the presidency, there went the usual elite civil socialites, once again demonizing him, and even saying that Estrada has a poor track record and a bad Cabinet.

One truly wonders where they get their facts, because official records show that Estrada certainly did a better job as President than their anointed has."

In explaining the political longevity of Arroyo despite huge problems in corruption and hunger, nationalist economist and political analyst Alejandro Lichauco writes that despite obvious support of the majority of Filipinos, Erap is faced with the problem of his inability to get a considerable segment of the upper and middle classes to his side, which includes the opinion makers, along with the intellectuals and revolutionary leaders. Alejandro continues: "While that class is numerically insignificant, it holds the levers of political power."

It is clear that the media is not the only hurdle for the ousted President. Military support--not necessarily in terms of loyalty to him but to the majority of the Filipinos--is perhaps even more important. Granting that the nation is able to maintain some democratic space for 'press freedom,' however, the opinion maker that is the media remains an important tool that would make or break Joseph Ejercito Estrada's "final, final performance."




GabbyD said...

re kangaroo court/sandigan bayan

i'm interested in this. where can i find evidence that the guilty verdict of erap is a political decision, unfounded in evidence?

GabbyD said...

your criticism of noynoy is weird.

he hasn't been convicted of any crime.

he is free to run if he wants. who cares if cory apologized to erap, assuming it wasn't a joke, which is the official stand of the aquino family.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

What I find weird is how some educated people either assert or believe that the 'Conspiracy of One' decision that found Erap guilty is not a political decision.

1.The Plunder court is a specially created court--first time it happened, says DJB in one of the early posts here.

2. Vidal & Velarde knew about the decision in advance, so what does tell anybody decently fair enough? (Go to my site for the Tordesillas link/references).

3. Those justices soon got promoted to SC (1 is pending). Big smoke of reward.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

The argument that convicted persons deserve badgering by the media or whoever is pathetically unfair. Are the murky yellows forgetting that Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino was a convicted murderer and subversive? I definitely don't buy that because I consistently consider the political angle in important court decisions before I pass judgment. What about you?

And, for heaven's sake, the Plunder ruling was made during the time of the power grabber! Dangerous prejudice the undemocratically 'civil society' holds.

NOBODY deserves unfair media treatment.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

As for Noynoy, the hypothetical questions are hardly "criticisms." They're mere questions on perfectly legitimate political issues. Actually, they don't even come close to the ferocity of those hurled at Estrada by Tiangco (that's by design because I'm fairer, I guess, and I do respect the Aquinos).

GabbyD, don't baby your Noynoy. He's seeking the presidency, right? The people deserve to know his views and plans.

GabbyD said...


what is your site. i'd like to see this evidence.

i wasnt clear in my 2nd comment. i thought your criticisms on the media treatment of noynoy is weird.

why? erap (assuming he was indeed guilty) faces a higher burden than a normal/regular candidate, because of the history of edsa 2.

it only makes sense that people acknowledge that and press him on it.

noynoy is not burdened by it. hence, when he announced his candidacy, the questions you quoted were asked.

moving forward, i expect more questions on his plans for the future. but during his prescon, announcing his candidacy? that wasn't the story, and it wouldnt make any sense to press him on his platform.

it would also not make sense to press him on his mother's relationship with erap. i think this is fair NOW, but NOT at the time

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Hi GabbyD.

My site's SOBRIETY FOR THE PHILIPPINES. Click it at the end of this article (I don't include the references here at Philippine Commentary as a matter of practice because I usually use plenty of sources).

Why I included Edsa 2 points in the Noynoy questions is because he's still riding on legacy of his parents and because the issue itself is relevant to EVERY politician of the present (as far as I believe, it needs to be addressed/rectified). Denial of the coup won't do good for our country's future and writing of history.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

@ GabbyD

Also, why Noynoy and EDSA 2 can't be separated is because he tried to soften the apology of Cory to Erap for the EDSA 2 uprising.

Noynoy's & the spokesperson's stand is that apology was said in "jest" but Cory's "not taking it back" (emphasis supplied). Thing is, this claim came amidst news na nagkasagutan sina Cory & Deedee.

Even Inquirer (in an opinion article) believes that Cory meant that apology because she's been talking of her regret over Erap's ouster and Gloria's installation even before 2008.

I speculate that Noynoy, under pressure from the democratically uncivil 'civil society,' Sen. Salonga included, tried to elicit a retraction from Cory but did not get it. As a compromise, he said--not Cory--that it was merely said in jest but she won't take it back.

That joke angle is face-saving propaganda of the gullibles of Edsa 2. That is NOT the official stand of the family. Si Noynoy siguro, but not Cory. Otherwise, Cory herself would have done the amending.

Anna said...

Superb analysis, JB. I like this article.

Balanced and honest.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Thanks, Anna. :)

Jun Bautista said...

Hi Jesusa,

For the very serious allegation that Estrada was convicted by a "kangaroo court," the grounds you mentioned are too speculative. Speculation is not evidence. I would not make such a sweeping and dangerous allegations if I have not seen the evidence. Erap was convicted only after evidence pro and con was presented. The evidence against him may be strong or weak; I don't know. But until I have seen it, I would not make such allegation.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Yes, Jun. It's speculation. Not made as loudly as the speculations during Marcos' time that the conviction of Sen. Benigno Aquino as murderer, subversive and possessor of firearms was made by a "Kangaroo Court."

When politics and courts of justice meet, those in power always claim legitimacy while the other side can only make "speculations."

At least, my speculations are based on the report of advanced knowledge of the ruling--which Velarde and Vidal are not denying to my knowledge. Not to mention the 'coincidental' promotions of those Plunder court justices to the SC (consider the context of the pattern of the Arroyo administration to reward those who tow its line--beginning from Gen. Reyes until now).


Jesusa, Jun,

I do hope you won't mind this intrusion... Allow me to butt in... Indeed, it's a given, i.e., the law needs evidence and proofs and all other things to prove guilt or innocence.

Pardon the following tirade, I assure you far from my desire to to disparage good, honest lawyers -- just that poor old non-legal mind of mine feels the need to defend "myself", an ordinary Joe, no legal training nor much knowledge of the law ...What I'd like to say is that as far as I am concerned, there's such a thing too as good old common sense, top it up with a sense of what is right from wrong, and a dose of good old sense to determine what is just and unjust. To me, a person who is not law expert need only those to form an opinion, i.e., to think or believe that something is just or unjust. Admittedly, they are based on speculations, fortunately the brain, or one's intellect rather allows a person to filter information.

So, while in a court of law, legal experts need more than that, your ordinary joe (like yours truly), has the luxury of merely speculating as opposed to you lawyers who cannot have that luxury.

The upside is that we are shielded from art of legal wranglings that you lawyers have to master. Downside is that your ordinary joes cannot use the same art -- we cannot just twist and stew the letter of the law or use a loophole as judiciously as legal experts can that sometimes allows an innocent to be convicted and the guilty to be freed.

So, what are we, the ordinary joes left with? Our own God-given sense of deduction, rightly or wrongly, it's a risk ordinary joes have to take in formulating an opinion on whether men in robes in the Philippines have been judicious.

Our esteemed justices of the Supreme Court may have all the legal training but I'm afraid, they are not infallible. In the case of Estrada, they committed something worse than just legal wrong, they committed something morally wrong, something morally reprehensive -- so, wrong is wrong no matter who says or does it.

Anonymous said...

Erap was convicted of plunder. Remember that.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

@ Anonymous
The article tries to get the readers to read through media or any publisher's bias. If you were unlike Tiangco/GMA-7/PDI/etc., you won't forget to add something like this to your post:
"Remember that Noynoy's dad, whose surname & popularity he's well riding on, was also a convicted man--convicted of murder and subversion and possession of

Get it?

Actually, that's just 1/2 fair. The ideal is to add that both convictions were reportedly made by kangaroo courts.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

@ Hillblogger,

morally reprehensive....

Most apt terms to describe the repulsively hilarious Court of Davide. I say history will judge that guy most unkindly, along with the other SC justices.

The wheels of karmic justice will come down upon the immoral-more-of-the-time 'civil society' sooner or late. They won't always be on top. Wait lang tayo.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

@ Hillblogger,

Your comment comes from the heart and commonsensical mind. It got me bit of emotional--marami din naman pala ang hindi gullibles of Edsa 2.

manuelbuencamino said...

Do you really think that Estrada was as guiltless as Ninoy Aquino?

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Of plunder of national treasury?

Most definitely.

Jun Bautista said...


Your comparison of Estrada's case with Ninoy are off. Ninoy was convicted by a military tribunal formed upon order of Marcos. He was not supposed to be tried by a military tribunal because civilian courts are open and functioning and he is a civilian. By that alone, it makes the proceedings against him a kangaroo proceedings. Second, he did not participate in that proceedings because he did not recognize the authority and legitimacy of the military commission. Estrada, on the other hand, was tried by a civilian court, during the proceedings of which he participated and was even represetned by some of the country's top lawyers. He was given the chance to present his evidence, confront his accusers, etc. Creation of a special panel is not something unusual in our judicial system, especially so the case is special, involving as it does a president of the country. This alone is not sufficient to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings, more so when the accused is tried publicly and accorded his rights to defend himself. I am not aware of Vidal and Velarde's knowledge of the so-called advance decision, but anyone can always predict the outcome of a case but will not necessarily mean he/she read the decision in advance or that it was made even before trial is terminated. Appointment to the Supreme Court? A thankful president can always do that. The law gives the president absolute discretion to appoint justices to the Supreme Court based on the JBC's recommendation and anybody can apply to the Supreme Court. While this could be interpreted as reward for the Sandiganbayan justices, this alone would not suffice in saying that Estrada's conviction was concocted.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Jun, it's your legalese double standards that are off.

It was Martial Law and everything Marcos did, including Proclamation 1081 was legal and in order. 1081 was constitutional and legal within the 1935/1972 constitution, in contrast to the ouster of Erap ruled to be a novel, never-before-heard "constructive resignation" without resignation letter and without any real presidential incapacity.

In case you did not notice, by the way, Davide was a seditious EDSA 2 "party"-goer--unethical action that deserves condemnation at the very least.

Anyway, Ninoy Aquino did not participate but also did not question his trial before the Supreme Court. Meaning, he considered it all "legal" or to be ruled legal--a paradigm you seem limited to. Don't tell me he didn't believe in the SC--in Ninoy's California speeches, he talked of threatening to bring up some matter before the SC. Re Erap's case, the ousted leader also abandoned the trial as reported in the news.

You are not aware of the Vidal/Velarde advanced because you refuse to. You try to belittle this important point by claiming it's mere "prediction" of an outcome. I didn't know that Ellen Tordesillas reported about "predictions." No, that ain't the case--the 2 religious leaders were DISTURBED by Arroyo's advanced knowledge of the outcome.

Appointment to the SC--all three who handled Erap's case (aside from the pending) normal? As you said, a thankful President, especially a power grabbing President.

Ergo, in the context of the Erap ouster/Arroyo power grab and the Velarde/Vidal report, the kangaroo court speculation is as valid as the speculation done in Ninoy's time. Perhaps, more valid.

GabbyD said...


where in your blog is evidence/blog post that the judges predecided the case? could u provide a link?

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Hi GabbyD.

You understand, of course, that any evidence under the political climate cannot be definitive or conclusive, similar to the case of Ninoy during Martial Law.

Velarde, Vidal Know About Guilty Verdict In Estrada Trial

Herein, Erap described the verdict as "kangaroo court"--Erap: Conviction a political decision

This shows how the administration "managed" the verdict--Laughable Philippine SC Decision on "Live Coverage" of Erap Verdict

Sept. 2007 SWS survey shows that 62% of Filipinos do not believe Erap enriched himself">' Note Chart I, which shows the considerable drop of those who believe that Erap was guilty--from 465 in 2001 down to 36% in 2007.

Also, throughout the trial, much more Filipinos believed that Erap was NOT guilty. This, despite the demonization by the adminstration & mainstream media.

Then there's the bigger picture of Oplan Excelsis/Edsa 2 power grab and the loudly political, previously unheard-of "constructive resignation" SC decision on Erap's ouster. It's really so easy to at least suspect injustice--just have to put the pieces together, no matter the lack of explicit evidence.