POSTSCRIPT / February 4, 2001 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Estrada’s Sandigan trial must be covered live also

WITH Ombudsman Aniano Desierto properly served notice that he cannot play footsie with favored officials facing charges, it is a foregone conclusion that plunder and other criminal charges against deposed President Estrada will be filed with the Sandiganbayan.

Our next assignment is to look for loopholes that might be written into the complaints. With the help of the private prosecutors — the unsung heroes of the impeachment and now this upcoming Sandigan trial — let’s monitor the public prosecutors’ every move, every word, everything.

Finally, and this is crucial!, let’s insist on full and live coverage of the trial. We will lose the case if we allow them to close the door on us even just for one minute.

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THE Arroyo administration, which sometimes casts around for cues from the media before acting, can now announce with more confidence that there will be no exile for Mr. Estrada. The people have spoken.

The “No” had firmed up at 95 percent when we closed last Friday our survey on President Arroyo’s earlier statement that it was all up to Mr. Estrada to go on exile or not.

The question we posed to readers was “Are you in favor of having former President Estrada go on exile while the cases against him are being prosecuted? Why?

We continue today printing more of the responses. We’re sorry we cannot publish all of them, and those that we’ve been using had to be cut to save on space.

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RETO Feuerstein, Cebu: Is Estrada (Velarde) a king who needs exile? He is not a political refugee, but a criminal who has to go to prison here in the Philippines. He and the Filipinos have to face the music. Healing is not by moving the sick parts to others.

Emmanuelsdlopez, aol: Just send Erap to jail and serve as example to all future grafters in government, big and small.

Camilo Torres, Los Angeles: I wish Estrada could be prosecuted and imprisoned together with the Marcoses. I hope hindi rin nalilimutan ng mga kababayan natin ang krimen ng mga Marcoses. Dapat ikulong lahat ito so that we could say na iba talaga ang Edsa 2 sa Edsa 1.

Elmo Sales, pixi: Exile is tantamount to sending him on vacation with expenses paid by the Filipino people. The rationale of exiling him to prevent him from mounting an attack is the same as not facing a problem head on. Why don’t we face the problem now, and face it with confidence, instead of putting it behind us only to be haunted later.

Bobby C. Santiago, Caloocan: What we should do is fasttrack the filing of complaints from the Ombudsman to the Sandiganbayan so they could order his arrest. If he is put behind bars, justice, which is one of the battle cries of Edsa 2, is duly served. Unless he is punished, we who went to Edsa would not be comfortable dealing with this government.

Paul, Quezon City: I’d like to see Erap in exile provided that those who wish his exile would go with him. The war is within ourselves, and how are we going to truly win if we are going to turn our backs again… The fight is right here, right now.

Sabrina Hardaway, UP law student, Muntinlupa: Kung may kasalanan, i-prosecute. Yun lang ang tamang gawin. Kung totoong wala nang naniniwala sa kanya, kung totoong wala nang naniniwala na siya ay walang kasalanan, bakit gusto pa siyang ipa-exile?

Bert Golla, Seattle, WA: His remaining in the Philippines adds no more risks to President Arroyo. The real risk to her presidency is her ability to resolve such problems as garbage, crime, poverty, graft and corruption, injustice, cronyism, and poor economy. People’s expectations are high and their patience is short and volatile. Status quo means People Power III. Three strikes and Philippine democracy is out and dead.

Reynaldo I. Ibay, San Andres, Manila : Exile Estrada. As soon as plunder charges are filed which is punishable by death and therefore non-bailable, he should be exiled to the former stronghold of the rebels in Camp Abubakar in lieu of an ordinary jail as a courtesy to a former head of state.

Calixto Gutierrez, apv.co.uk: I favor exile. But the decision is entirely up to him. If it would be necessary to have him back to testify, then bring him back. His being in exile should not stop the courts from prosecuting him even in absentia. He says he’s innocent — then let him or his lawyers prove that. I can’t wait to hear the final verdict of guilty.

Antonio P. Jacomina III, Ayala Ave., Makati: No. In fairness to him, he should go to trial and face his accusers. I would like to see closure on this matter, see all of Erap’s cronies (visible or invisible) exposed and charged, and see if our justice system really works. It is about time we Filipinos faced and solved our own problems head on rather than running away from them.

Jake Jimenez, Davao: NO! HE WZ BORN HERE, LIVES HERE & INSTED F DYING, SHOULD GO 2 JAIL HERE AS OUR NATIONS TOP CROOK! HE SHD HV BN D LAST MAN 2 STEAL COZ WE GAV HIM R TRUST.

Ligutam, aol: To exile Estrada is the most stupid idea I’ve heard recently. The Filipino people invested a tremendous amount of energy, courage, sweat, blood, tears, and lost lives to impeach him, to prove his guilt, to show to the world that we were mistaken to have elected a corrupt leader, and now we are setting him free. Even if he is hanged, his life is not enough to pay for the lives of his victims, his mockery of justice. He fooled us. It is not vindictiveness, it is justice.

Joey Legarda, Makati: No way! First he must pay for his crimes. His trial must be a statement that crime does not pay. Marcos got away. There must be an end to the Filipino always getting fooled. As punishment he can be sent to exile, to be among people he cannot fool, that he cannot exploit. The only problem is who would want to have him!

Amy Lo, executive secretary for a French company: I have an uneasy feeling about Gloria’s wishy-washiness. Can’t she make a firm decision based on her judgment and conviction alone? But playing safe has already offended many! We all thirst for justice for all Filipinos wronged by Erap. We have been had by Marcos and his ill-gotten money, shall we allow Erap to do the same to us?

Jojo David, UST: He should not be allowed to leave the country or should not be allowed exile. We should follow the advice that says keep your friends close, your enemies closer.

Jun B. Lintag, Bay Area, California: Erap should be given a chance to complete the political education he gave the Filipino people. They should be grateful to him for accelerating the political maturing process. I’m confident most Filipinos will now be much more intelligent in electing their leaders. I can’t think of a better way to make people remember the Eraps, the Marcoses and their kind than hanging him upside-down for public viewing then prosecuting him. Exiling him is like throwing a turtle into the river to punish it.

Francisco Advincula, telus: (Btw, Canada has an extradition treaty with the Philippines.) I beg you not to suggest to GMA to exile disgraced President Estrada to Canada. We have enough bogus refugees who will fill Edsa to capacity. Enough bakya domestic helpers who may adulate him and launch a movie project with his signature role of illiterate, maton and barumbado, for the consumption of Filipino Canadians.

Yvette Quiogue, lehman: No. Being able to live abroad with his billions is definitely not punishment. It does not stop him from organizing his resources. With the advancement of technology, it is not like he will be out of touch with trapos wishing for his comeback. Keep him in our country where he can be reminded of his greed. Let Erap remain on Polk Street where we can hold weekly Erap-bashing sessions, where we can look down at them and laugh.

Lorenzo Raule, Makati: No. It will appear as though we are allowing an accused to have an extended vacation from his silly “leave of absence from the presidency” theory and condoning his stashing millions for his shopping spree abroad with his mistresses. Justice must be served, and that means giving the former president the dignity of appearing in court to face his accusers. What we missed in the aborted impeachment trial, we should now see with renewed interest, with all the fireworks.

Kurt Setschen, gmx: No. How could there be justice for or against Estrada if all former “friends” who have been the active bribers and in illegal business long before Erap became president turn now to unpunishable state witnesses, while the passive bribe-taker has no chance for immediate counteraction? Nobody can force a Filipino out of the Philippines.

Jose T. Llacuna Jr., Quezon City: Yes. For the trial to go unhampered minus the trouble his blind supporters will surely create. Besides, his trial in absentia would greatly help GMA’s government in the gargantuan task of healing and ultimately unifying the politically fragmented Filipino people. Unity is what we need as a people to attain economic growth and political stability.

George Canada, Bandung, Indonesia: No. Joseph “Velarde” Estrada is seriously a fallen man now. The noise we heard about a possible regrouping to destabilize the new government will not gain ground since the people have already heard and seen from the telenovela the crimes, abuses, and plunder committed by the ex-president, not to mention the nauseating show of loyalty from his 11 “tuta” in the Senate. Let Mr. Estrada stay and answer for the abuse and plunder he committed against the people.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 4, 2001)

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