The road to former President Joseph Estrada’s bid to run for Manila mayor has been cleared of an obstacle.
Last month, the Sandiganbayan unanimously dismissed the petition filed by two private lawyers from Manila that asked the court to clarify whether or not the ex-president’s decision to seek yet again public office was a violation of one of the conditions set in the presidential pardon granted to him.
In a one-page resolution, the antigraft court’s Special Division junked the “Motion for Determination and Interpretation of Judgment in the Plunder Case in Relation to the Conditional Pardon” filed on Nov. 16 last year by Fernando Perito and Nepthali Aliposa.
“…(F)or failure of the movants to set the above motion for hearing and furnish copies to the concerned parties in this case …, the same is considered a mere scrap of paper and ordered expunged from the records of this case,” the graft court declared.
Associate Justices Jose Hernandez, Napoleon Inoturan and Maria Cristina Cornejo signed the resolution.
Estrada, who ran for the presidency in 2010 but lost, has again filed a certificate of candidacy—this time for mayor of Manila.
The petitioners said that the former leader may have violated the conditions of the pardon granted by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by seeking public office.
Estrada was convicted by the Sandiganbayan’s Special Division of plunder on Sept. 12, 2007. He was sentenced to life imprisonment but on Oct. 25 that same year, Arroyo granted him executive clemency.
Perito was among those who filed disbarment complaints in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for her alleged defiance of a Supreme Court order that stopped her office from imposing a travel ban against Arroyo, now a representative of Pampanga province.
In their motion seeking a clarification, the two lawyers quoted one of the paragraphs in the conditional pardon signed by Arroyo that read: “Whereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or office…. In view thereof, 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.”
According to the petitioners, it is clear that the restoration of Estrada’s rights does not include the right to run for public office.
“The electorate or the people are interested that the issue be resolved once and for all whether or not convicted former President Estrada can still seek [an] elective position,” they said in their motion.
In 2010, nobody questioned the conditions of his pardon when Estrada ran for president, the lawyers noted.
But they said his announcement that he would not seek elective or public office again was what must have prompted Arroyo to grant him executive clemency.