I have always been an acerbic critic of former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada for using his mass appeal as an actor which catapulted him to the realm of politics and ultimately being voted to the presidency by the idolizing Filipinos only to be booted out, charged and convicted of plundering the nation.
Despite the political debacle he suffered, Estrada, however, did not lose his luster and clout as an actor and politician, being sought all the time for his support, not because of his wisdom, but more for the die-hard followers that he can still muster around nationwide.
His thick face never showed shame as he continued to be a political kingmaker. He was as popular as ever. Surely, he did not earn the moniker “Erap” as an actor for nothing.
Erap’s star even shone brighter when then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo granted her corrupt and scandalous predecessor pardon a month after his conviction for plunder in 2007.
This simply means that Erap was no longer to be considered a felon but rather a newly “baptized” man possessing once more all the legal, civil and political rights of a citizen of the republic.
As if being booted out from Malacañang was not disgraceful enough, he accepted the pleadings of his equally irresponsible mass political leaders and supporters to run for the presidency again in 2010. He nearly won it, if not for the intervention, perhaps, of the Divine Providence that Filipinos should not be defrauded again, especially after the corrupt administration of Arroyo, who finds herself under hospital arrest today.
What I am just trying to say here is that it is not Estrada’s fault that he is now the mayor of Manila. The fault surely lies in Arroyo and the masses who continue to put him on a pedestal.
But there is nothing we can do about it now. It is Erap’s fate to rule Manila and the chance given him to redeem himself from his incompetence as president of the country. Undoubtedly, Manila is doing well with Estrada at the helm.
And to think that everyone thought Alfredo Lim was a hero.
Perhaps, it is only fitting that the Supreme Court (SC) overwhelmingly voted, by the score of 11-3, to dismiss the disqualification case filed against Estrada because of his conviction for plunder.
“The majority characterized the pardon extended by Mrs. Arroyo to Mr. Estrada as absolute, thereby restoring Mr. Estrada’s qualifications to stand as candidate in the last mayoral elections,” Theodore Te, the court’s spokesman, said.
The decision upheld Estrada’s contention that the pardon Arroyo granted him restored his “full civil and political rights, including the right to seek public elective office.”
So be it.