Monday, October 19, 2009

Why Did Gloria Pardon Erap?

After JOSEPH "Erap" ESTRADA  was convicted of plunder by a handpicked trio of judges in the Sandiganbayan (which had never before, or since been done) most people were surprised when President Gloria Arroyo swiftly pardoned him. 

At the time, the general concensus was that the President did not think it possible to allow the process to proceed any further, for example, for Erap to actually be jailed in Bilibid Prison. It was said to be simply unthinkable and politically untenable because of the strong support that Erap had and still does have from a very significant fraction of the population, especially but not exclusively amongst the poor.

I never quite bought this justification.  I always believed that Erap would've done what his lawyer, Rene Saguisag was saying he would do and bring the case up for review by the Supreme Court, which would've forced a full threshing out of what really happened at Edsa Dos, and specifically the actions of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide.  Years after the event, the illegal and unconstitutional nature of his acts on 20 January 2001 (swearing in GMA, aborting the impeachment trial that was sure to ACQUIT the accused, and plotting that coup d'etat with Angelo Reyes and GMA) are as clear as day to most careful observers and even supporters of Edsa Dos.  Preventing such a Supreme Court case re-examining all this to affirm the plunder conviction--I was convinced--was GMA's real reason for pardoning Erap.

I now think this was only a small part of her motivation for pardoning Erap because even by then SCoRP could've been relied upon to once more save themselves from self-incrimination.

I now think that the real reason is a more far-reaching vision of her own personal political fortunes.  I believe now that she will step down from the Presidency in 2010, but that she will run for Congress in her home district of Pampanga, and come to dominate the Congress, perhaps as its Speaker, which a former President could manage to do.

Furthermore, she will "allow" SCoRP to decide in favor of Erap and allow him to run for the Presidency in 2010, a ruling that will also automatically make her eligible for the Presidency again in 2016, when she will only be 68 years young and by then a Senior Statesman like Fidel Ramos.  If her candidate(s) don't win in 2010, she would lead the Opposition against whoever does, maybe even Erap.

Then shoot for the Presidency again in six years.   (BTW, I think her real candidate in the election next year is Manny Villar).


Steven said...

Not convinced on two points.

First, I'm not convinced that the elevation of the Erap plunder case to the Supreme Court would have forced a re-examination of EDSA 2, which would not be strictly germane to the issue of whether or not Erap committed plunder. The case dealt entirely with the legality or illegality of Erap's actions while in office, and the court would have had to rule on that issue, not on the legality of EDSA 2, another issue.

I'm also not convinced that GMA would be able to dominate Congress if she ends up representing Pampanga. Congress will be servile as long as she's President, but the moment she's not, a lot will change: they'll be busy grovelling to the new dispenser of favors. Ex doesn't count for much, once your hands are off the strings of the pork barrel.

manuelbuencamino said...

I agree that Gloria will be hard put to dominate congress when she no longer holds the purse strings.

The power of the purse builds coalitions.

As to Phil's first point, I don't know if he's right but he seems to know what he's talking about.

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

Still, that would be the objective effect of any ruling by the SCoRP that Erap can run: that GMA can run again in 2016. It would at least settle an important, i would say critical Constitutional issue about term limits for Presidents.

Now I am not insisting that GMA planned it all like this, but surely the objective effect above is not something they would have neglected to consider when the pardon was given, and restoring "all civil and political rights" to Erap.

This brings up a possible response to your second point about what an appealed plunder case before SCoRP might have looked like. But let me argue by analogy.

Suppose you are arrested for robbery, tried and convicted. But in reality the cops planted the evidence, or bribed the RTC Judge.

You would surely have grounds to question the legality of the evidence against you and the judgment on appeal.

Erap's appeal would be similar. The CONTEXT by which he came to be arrested and convicted of plunder WAS Edsa 2. In an analogous manner, would you not at least concede that in fact he could've dredged up all that mess in his own defense against plunder. If a person is arrested without warrant, even if he did commit the crime, that would be grounds for acquittal on appeal.

Moreover, it is more than Edsa 2. It would be a case against SCoRP itself, the appeal I mean. BEcause it would recreate the awful Constitutional dilemma of the case Estrada v. Arroyo, essentially retrying Edsa 2! Which really should've been filed against DAVIDE, not Arroyo. Erap's appeal would in effect be a trial of Davide and SCoRP for its junking of the clear mandates of the Constitution that Congress, solely and exclusively and with finality and execution power, has jurisdiction from beginning to end of ALL impeachement cases.

Since plunder is a capital crime, I personally would've wished the Supreme Court were able to affirm its silly invention of the abomination, "constructive resignation" for all the vast audience of the future to deride.

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

GMA does not have to dominate Congress the way she did as President. She can be an Opposition Spark Plug, who as former President would always have the Media after her, because whatever happens in the new administration that has something to do with the old administration and involves Congress would instantly make her the scoop hungry journalists most sought after target and newsmaker.

She could also dominate congress by using impeachment from that silly one third rule of the minority provision.
She could become a real TroubleMaker who also happens to have been the previous President!

Purse Strings! Fie! No wonder she's always been a couple of steps ahead of those hounding her. She's clever, inventive and better than her haters at tactics and strategy.

And what if Noynoy who wins? Will he dominate Congress like a Trapo, using purse strings? Or will he leave it to GMA to use against him?

But if Villar wins, then you get a new Conjugal Dictatorship between Palace and Congress!


She forgave Erap because she knew she'd gone overboard. Also, because she's stupid.


Not sure if she's clever at strategy. She's plain street smart -- very tactical in a way. Highly reactive character. No scrupules in that short body of hers.

ricelander said...

Wait a minute. Who's the author of this entry? and the others downstairs? Let me guess... is this you Dean?

Igme said...

I think human nature will prevail against GMA dominating after her reign or even dreaming of lengthening said reign albeit in another form...

I imagine other politicians saying, "tama ka na makinabang...manguna..ako naman!!"

john marzan said...

Agree and disgaree on DJB:


1) the SCORP will allow erap to run in 2010. not because GMA has long term plans of retaking malacanang in 2016, but to split the anti-GMA vote between noynoy and erap.

2) Agree with DJB, the real admin candidate is Villar.


1) the real reason GMA pardon erap was because she did not want what happened to erap to happen to her too.

2) Without Malacanang and the control of purse strings, GMA won't be dominating anybody. EVEN IF she runs and manages to win a seat in the House, AND become Speaker--She will only be as powerful as the next president wants her to be. Case in Point: the former "powerful" Speaker Joe de Venecia. if Noynoy Aquino wins the presidency, expect the membership of LP to increase by 5folds, canibalizing Lakas-Kampi, NPC, and Nacionalista. Ditto if Villar wins re NP. She will end up running a shell of her former party, ala FVR.

3) She will not be leading any movement (Opposition or whatever) against future administrations except her soon-to-become One-woman Kampi party. and she's vulnerable to the next administration if she becomes a nuisance against them. they can easily open and investigate ALL the cases of her administration and family's corruption and GARCI. (in fact, if i were noynoy that's what i would do immediately kung manalo ako, to put the final nail on her coffin)

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

on point (3) I am puzzled by "they can easily open and investigate ALL the cases of her administration and family's corruption and GARCI."

How do "they" get around the Ombudsman, Merceditas Gutierrez who has 4 more years of her 7 year term.

john marzan said...

they (the DOJ) can bypass her and appoint independent special prosecutors to investigate each garci, the family corruption, the extra judicial killings.

who cares re arroyo's ombudsman, she's corrupt and partisan. if i were the newly elected president with a new super majority coalition, i would immediately use call on the House to impeach her ASAP for obstructing justice during arroyo's term.