When the President pardoned the ex-convict Joseph Estrada, what stands for the center-left in this country raised its arms in furor. Within minutes, some went online and created websites dedicated to demanding the resignation of the President. To them, the moral recovery of the nation demands nothing less than the cathartic sight of a former President brought to prison cuffed and in prison garb. To do otherwise would reinforce in law the double standard in society for the high and mighty.
It is said that the true test of conviction in what is right and what is wrong does not come when all are in agreement as to what is right. Rather, it comes when most think you are wrong. If GMA is to be judged by the vitriol on the Internet over this latest brouhaha, then I guess she must be thoroughly convinced of her rightness.
I guess most people, too. No one else is taking to the streets. Perhaps it is because Her Shortness has done *gasp* the right thing.
The Bishop’s Conference seems to think so. Tita Cory likewise bestows her blessing. They say that what is important is that a conviction is reached and restitution is made. Never mind what he says, his acceptance of the pardon is an admission of his guilt, which should be lauded and not condemned. This being the case, nothing but a Nixon-like pardon would be the human thing to do.
Those of us who enjoy watching from the fence may never know whether pardoning Erap was the right thing to do.
What is for certain is that the dramatis personæ in this particular zarzuela had no other choice in the matter.
Erap tried manipulating the people by having his verdict read without the court justifying its decision. That was his right, after all. When his taunts of a biased decision didn’t bother anyone, he knew that a favorable appeal was out of the question. The current Supreme Court being at its most morally upright since Jose Abad Santos, asking for a reversal was akin to shooting the moon.
On the other hand, GMA is in dire need of support from any sector she could court. A chilling of relations between the President and the Speaker should send even the most popular of Presidents scampering for support. Since no one is sad to see her go, anything that buys her time is of great value. The “impeachment” zarzuela of Ronnie Puno’s hatchetman falling through at the last minute, she really had no other choice.
So far, the gambit seems to be effective. That time for the President has effectively been bought is borne by subsequent events. Erap is refraining from actively campaigning for the President’s ouster. Like his father, Jinggoy is withdrawing his support for the President’s impeachment. The Manila Times is even bold enough to proclaim that the impeachment complaint of the United Opposition is dead in the water. The demands of the indignant and unforgiving for the redress of grievances seem to have fallen on deaf ears. It has become such a non-issue that I expect the question of whether or not GMA finishes her term to be yesterday’s news by the time December comes along. It seems that the long weekend is proving to be a small reprieve for GMA.
Personally, I believe that by finally convicting Erap, the people have won, even if he never served a day in prison. Call him an ex-con, a plunderer, and a criminal to your heart’s content – you will be correct. Let nothing he says sway you from that conviction. The man has been tried in a court of law and found guilty of all charges. Refuse to acknowledge his honorific title. Do nothing to celebrate or honor his time in office.
Jail sentences end. Eternal contempt is and should be the more painful punishment.
If there is anyone who should be disappointed, it should be those who wholly believed in his lying pleas of innocence. Tita Mids even went all teary eyed on national television proclaiming his innocence. She should be among the most distraught. A truly innocent man, such as Edward Serapio, would and should have been exonerated – or at least gone down fighting.
I imagine FPJ turning in his grave.
We have double standards for morality and decency. I’ll give you one example: the Plunderer could have been convicted many times over for concubinage if not for a estranged wife who could care less. On the other hand, a lawyer who was by all other accounts the most upright man in Philippine basketball was disbarred for gross immorality. Maybe we should have the same standard applied to our leaders.