Former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the disqualification case filed against him and declare him the mayor of the country’s capital.
In a 32-page comment filed on Monday, Estrada maintained that he was granted an absolute pardon by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Oct. 25, 2007, after he was found guilty of plunder by the Sandiganbayan.
Estrada filed his comment in compliance with the high court’s directive for him to respond to the petition filed on April 29 by lawyer Alicia Risos-Vidal who questioned the decision of the Commission on Election (Comelec) to declare the former president qualified to run for Manila mayor in the May 13 polls.
Vidal had gone to the high court to appeal the ruling of the poll body, which she accused of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
She had claimed that Estrada was not eligible to run for Manila mayor because of his prior conviction for plunder and the fact that he had been sentenced to reclusion perpetua, which permanently barred him from running for office.
Binding and conclusive
In his comment, Estrada said the Comelec order upholding the “absoluteness” of his pardon and thus, his eligibility to run for office were “binding and conclusive” and “hence, cannot be disturbed.”
According to him, the allegations and evidence in the petition were “insufficient to disturb” the Comelec resolution that dismissed the disqualification case against him and found him eligible to run for Manila mayor.
Absolute in character
Estrada also maintained that the executive clemency granted to him by Arroyo was “absolute in character” and “effectively obliterated all the penalties attached to the conviction.”
According to him, the pardon he received categorically stated that his civil and political rights were restored and thus, it included the right to seek public elective office.
Estrada assumed the Manila mayoral post at noon on June 30 along with other elected officials.
He was declared the winner in the May 13 elections over then incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim who was seeking reelection.
Lim has since filed a petition for intervention in the disqualification case Vidal filed in the high tribunal.
In his prayer to the high court, Estrada asked for the dismissal of the petition against him for utter lack of merit and the affirmation of his eligibility and qualification as the duly elected mayor of the City of Manila.