Comelec clears way for Estrada-Lim fight
Noting that it allowed him to run for President in 2010, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has dismissed for “utter lack of merit” a petition seeking to disqualify former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada from running for Manila mayor in May.
With its April 1 resolution, the poll body’s Second Division removed the last impediment to the much-awaited “battle royale” between Estrada and incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim.
The petition was filed by lawyer Alicia Vidal who, according to the commissioners, “failed to present cogent proof sufficient to reverse the standing pronouncement of this Commission declaring categorically that [Estrada’s] right to seek public office [had] been effectively restored by the pardon vested upon him by former President Gloria M. Arroyo.”
“Since this Commission has already spoken, it will no longer engage in disquisitions of a settled matter lest [it indulges] in [the] wastage of government resources,” they added.
Estrada, who went to the Comelec main office on Tuesday to get a copy of the decision, said he was certain that Lim was behind the efforts to get him disqualified.
Two similar cases were filed against him in the Sandiganbayan and Manila Regional Trial Court but both were dismissed.
“It’s Dirty Harry, who else? It’s all dirty tricks. He claims he has nothing to do with this but it’s his lawyers who are behind this … He’s lying,” Estrada said, referring to Lim by his moniker.
“I pity him because he does not want the people to have a choice. Leave it to the people to decide,” he added.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes, who welcomed Estrada at the Comelec, said Lim’s camp could still appeal the decision to the poll body en banc.
Vidal, who served as Lim’s lawyer after former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza accused him of cheating in the 2010 local elections, had told the Comelec that Estrada should be disqualified because he promised Arroyo that he would no longer run for public office before she pardoned him in October 2007.
However, the Comelec noted in its resolution in 2010 that the executive clemency granted to Estrada was “absolute and unconditional.”
“Having been accepted by him, the same can no longer be revoked or be made subject to a condition,” it said.
Commissioner Grace Padaca said the pardon of Estrada effectively restored all his civil and political rights, “including the right to vote and to be voted [into] public office.”
“If former President Arroyo intended for the pardon to be conditional on Estrada’s promise never to seek public office again, the former ought to have explicitly stated the same in the text of the pardon itself,” she added.