Erap Estrada: Betting On Beating The Odds
That former president Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada loves to gamble is no secret.
So even if the odds are stacked against him, Mr. Estrada insists he’ll emerge victorious in next year’s elections despite the expected flood of suits seeking his disqualification.
Mr. Estrada draws his optimism from the very pardon deal he forged with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo which restored all his civil and political rights:
Whereas, this Administration has a policy of releasing inmates who have reached the age of seventy (70),
Whereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has been under detention for six and a half years,
Whereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or office,
In view hereof and pursuant to the authority conferred upon me by the Constitution, I hereby grant executive clemency to Joseph Ejercito Estrada, convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby restored to his civil and political rights.
The forfeitures imposed by the Sandiganbayan remain in force and in full, including all writs and processes issued by the Sandiganbayan in pursuance hereof, except for the bank account(s) he owned before his tenure as President.
The come-backing Mr. Estrada also insists the he’s not covered by Article 7, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution since he is not the sitting President who is prohibited from seeking re-election:
Section 4. The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.
Buttressing Estrada’s belief that he can validly run again is jurisprudence pointing to the supremacy of the people’s will as expressed in the ballot.
As veteran journalist Dean Dela Paz recently wrote:
Writing on constitutional limitations, Thomas McIntyre Cooley, the 25th Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote, “The Constitution does not derive its force from the convention which framed it, but from the people who ratified it. The intent to be arrived at is that of the people.”
In Lambino et al, vs. COMELEC (G.R. 174153, October 25, 2006), “The intent to be arrived at is that of the people, and it is not to be supposed that they have looked for any dark or abstruse meaning in the words employed…”
“Where there is controversy in the interpretation of the Constitution, it is not only the intent of the framers that must be considered but the intention of the people who ratified it”.
In Tecson and Desiderio versus COMELEC (G.R.161434, March 3, 2004), concurring with ponente Justice Jose Vitug, Chief Justice Reynato Puno wrote, “…the better policy approach is to let the people decide who will be the next President. For on political questions, this Court may err, but the sovereign people will not. To be sure, the Constitution did not grant to the unelected members of this Court the right to elect in behalf of the people”.
Further concurring, Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez likewise wrote, “This right to choose cannot be subtly interfered with through the elimination of the electoral choice… Disqualifying a candidate, particularly the popular one, on the basis of doubtful claims does not result to a genuine, free and fair election. It results to violence.”
So Erap is bringing his case to the people.
How his judicial, and political odds-making plays out bears very close watching indeed.