"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Monday, September 24, 2007

ON PLANNED PARDON OF PRESIDENT ESTRADA

After taking the high road in bringing former President Joseph Estrada to trial and securing a conviction against him, the nation will be retreating to international ridicule and disrespect by cravenly trying to appease him with a presidential pardon - if certain officials and politicians have their way.

The judicial process regarding President Estrada is not yet over. Although a guilty verdict has been handed down, he has the right to appeal it before the Sandiganbayan and the Supreme Court. As he continues to insist up to now, he is not guilty and the verdict against him was unfair and unjust.

For the Administration - or certain officials of the Administration - to be offering at this time a presidential pardon is wrongheaded and contrary to law. It took our justice system six years and considerable treasure to try and resolve this case against President Estrada. Now, for the sake of dubious political points, some would waive it all away.

This is not the intent or spirit of the law, nor the meaning of justice being tempered with mercy. The verdict must first be applied before any idea of tempering it should be entertained. Above all, there must be some sense of contrition or remorse on the part of the offender before he can be considered eligible for pardon.

In the history of the world, we find numerous examples of the honorable course for a nation to follow in handling the celebrated cases of former leaders and statesmen. That course is for the nation to be firm and fair, and to pay decent regard not only for the opinion of its own people but that of the international community as well.

This is the course which Peru is now following in seeking justice against its former president Alberto Fujimori, after seven years of trying to repatriate him. This is the course which Korea followed in trying and convicting several of its former presidents. This is also the course the Philippines has followed in bringing President Estrada to trial. We risk the scorn of other nations if we just throw away the vindication won at such great cost and effort.

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