It’s a dirty trick by Dirty Harry.
This was how former President Joseph Estrada described on Monday the petition filed against him in the Commission on Elections for his disqualification from the upcoming mayoral race in Manila.
Estrada, along with his counsel, former Solicitor General Frank Chavez, came face to face with the petitioner Alicia Risos-Vidal at the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila, for a preliminary hearing.
Vidal was with her counsel, former Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Rodolfo Palattao, during the hearing.
“This is purely harassment and forum shopping, which is prohibited by the Supreme Court,” Estrada told reporters before the hearing.
The petition filed in the Comelec was the third disqualification case slapped against him since he filed his certificate for candidacy for Manila mayor. Vidal’s petition raised the conditionality of the pardon granted to him in 2007 that supposedly did not restore his political liberty.
A similar case was filed in the Sandiganbayan but it was recently dismissed. Another petition against Estrada is pending in the Manila Regional Trial Court.
Estrada said he believed that his rival for the position, incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim, who earned the moniker “Dirty Harry” for his crime-fighting methods, was behind the cases seeking his disqualification.
“One of the lawyers is Justice Palattao. Everybody knows he’s the lawyer of Lim,” he added.
Vidal, in a separate interview, admitted that she served as Lim’s lawyer in the 2010 election protest filed against him by losing mayoral candidate Lito Atienza. But she stressed that Lim had nothing to do with the case she filed and that she did it as a registered voter of Manila.
Estrada, meanwhile, dismissed the cases filed against him as “purely harassment.”
“I was able to run for president in 2010 so there’s no reason that I can’t run for mayor. I am qualified because I’ve been a mayor for 17 years,” said Estrada, referring to his long stint as the chief executive of San Juan before he became a senator.
In the same breath, he urged Lim to fight fair. “He is a good friend. Let’s have a fair fight. Let’s put this political fight aboveboard,” he said.
Palattao told reporters that Estrada was able to run for president in 2010 because no one questioned his qualification. “So this petition is a direct action against his candidacy in Manila,” he said.
On the other hand, Chavez argued that the presidential pardon granted to Estrada imposed no obligation on him not to seek public office in the future.
“This is wrong because that was never a condition to his pardon… the very same pardon document restored his civil and political rights. The matter was also brought before the Comelec in 2009 when he ran for president and it [was dismissed],” he said.