Two registered voters in Manila have asked a court to determine whether or not former President Joseph Estrada was qualified to run for city mayor next year, saying that should he be disqualified, the votes cast in his favor would subsequently be declared null and void.
In particular, Romeo de Leon, a resident of Tondo and Mariel Limueco from Pandacan asked the Manila Regional Trial Court through their lawyer Rodrigo Melchor to determine what type of pardon was granted to Estrada.
“The question is whether the pardon is conditional or unconditional. If the pardon is conditional, the petitioners’ votes for (Estrada) will be in clear and present danger of being rendered meaningless or useless,” they said in their petition.
They noted that one of the conditions set for his pardon was that the former leader would “no longer seek any elective position or office.”
According to them, should it be proven that Estrada has violated any of the conditions, the pardon will be “set aside and the original punitive sentence, which has not been nullified but only suspended, may be enforced against him.”
The former leader was convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan in 2007. He was granted executive clemency by his successor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Sought for comment, Angel Gonong, Estrada’s media officer, described the latest petition as a “fishing expedition” coming from the camp of Mayor Alfredo Lim who is seeking reelection.
“His pardon was absolute, restoring all his civil and political rights, meaning he can vote and be voted upon,” Gonong said.
Three disqualification cases were filed against Estrada after he decided to run for president in 2010. The Commission on Elections’ second division later allowed him to run, saying he was not covered by a constitutional provision barring an incumbent leader from seeking reelection since he was not a sitting president eyeing a second term. With a report from Inquirer Research