BY + MOST REV. ARTURO M. BASTES, SVD, DD
Bishop of Sorsogon
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 38, October 28-November 3, 2007
The recent pronouncement of Malaca?ang on Erap Pardon is highly suspicious and full of self-vested interests. It is indeed the prerogative of the President of the Philippines to grant clemency to convicted criminals yet there are considerations that should be taken into account. One of which is the fundamental question on justice.
The conviction of Erap on plunder case is a triumph of justice. Last September 12, the Sandiganbayan convicted Estrada of plunder and sentenced him to life in prison. The court also ordered the former leader to return more than 734 million pesos of his ill-gotten wealth. Yet this is overturned by the pardon given by GMA to Erap.
The executive clemency of former president Estrada is not an act of mercy but rather a political survival of the Arroyo Regime. The Arroyo administration has been beleaguered by the massive corruption and anomalous deals. The controversial ZTE-National Broadband Network deal has been disclosed to involve allegedly the First Gentleman, the President and the former COMELEC Chairman Abalos. The $ 329.5 Million worth deal was allegedly overpriced. It must be recalled that the ‘under negotiation’ Cyber Education Project is allegedly overpriced also.
The recent payola scandal or the giving of money to politicians is too scandalous and it undermines the sound economic policies of the national government. With the disclosure of Governor Ed Panlilio regarding the money handed out in Malaca?ang, runs contrary to the institutional decency of the Arroyo government. More so the “untraceable origin” of the payola money haunts even the Department of Budget Management (DBM). This must be investigated thoroughly.
The acceptance of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) as the responsible group in giving the cash must be viewed as “shock-absorber” so as to mislead the inquiry from the Office of the President. They must tell the Truth unless truth has been subjected in favor of political patronage and survival.
It must be reiterated that the conviction of former president Estrada is an exercise of retributive or
corrective justice. Retributive justice refers to the extent to which punishments are fair and just. In general, punishments are held to be just to the extent that they take into account relevant criteria such as the seriousness of the crime and the intent of the criminal, and discount irrelevant criteria such as race. Yet Estrada never winked to accept his crimes to the end. It should be the remorse and decision of the erring individual for personal transformation that must move a president to stroke a pen for absolute pardon. It must be noted that Estrada has not served half of his sentence. It is indeed questionable why the Arroyo administration gave pardon to Erap.
With the corruption controversies, the impeachment complaint rolling in the House of Representatives and crack in the alliance between Speaker Jose De Venecia and GMA, Malaca?ang executed the final decision that undermines the fundamentals of society, i.e. the absolute dispensation of justice.
This act of Malaca?ang sends wrong signal to the people: that accountability and justice will never hold and will always sway for political survival. The growing rift between GMA and JDV drives a wedge in favor of the pro-Estrada politicians and the Opposition. The pardon is a tactical move by GMA to clip the pro-Estrada politicians on the looming impeachment and growing clamor of the civil society for the president to resign.
It is lamentable because fundamentals of strong and noble societies like justice have been corrupted beyond reconstruction and recognition.(Bulatlat.com)