POSTSCRIPT / October 30, 2007 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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More readers object to pardoning of Erap

FUTILE?: More than half of the email received directly by Postscript on the pardoning of convicted former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada expressed dismay, anger, objection and such negative reactions.

The objections differed from the resignation, expressed in my last Postscript, to the futility of seeking court action to overturn the grant of clemency by President Gloria Arroyo.

Needless to say, however, political action is an option that is still open – but it is entirely different from court action.

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OBJECTION: Representing the negative reaction to the pardon is this email from reader Cesar Crisostomo who used an msn.com address. He said in part:

“It is error to pardon a 70-year-old inmate who continues to profess innocence and who has not served a modicum amount of time in jail. Malacanang says Erap is an inmate who deserved to be pardoned by reason of old age.

“Can one be an inmate in his own posh resthouse? Quite the contrary, he lived a luxurious and abundant life in a well appointed house complete with amenities.

“But Gloria says he has suffered enough. If that is her definition of ‘suffering,’ I bet a lot of jailbirds would have wanted to meet the same fate as Erap. With such a comfortable life, a guaranteed quick pardon with full civil restitution, a plentiful space to move around plus a right to lambaste the courts, Gloria has just added a premium to an adjudged criminal.

“The speed with which pardon was granted to a convicted but unremorseful felon brings a lot of question to the fore. A quid pro quo must have been reached. For how could one explain the facility with which it was accomplished other than an expectation of something in return?”

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TAINTED: Crisostomo added: “That it was tainted with political expediency is a logical conclusion to this ignominious setup. Was blackmail involved? Does Erap hold damning evidence against the government, more specifically, Gloria?

“This latest fiasco must have caused a lot of souls to turn their backs against now a morally decayed president. For how could one justify such a despicable act in utter disregard of the rules of fair play?

“How in the world could she let a man go scotfree in the face of conviction beyond reasonable doubt for looting the coffers of an impoverished nation?

“From the time Gloria set foot in Malacanang as president, I have been her avid supporter… until today. The fact that she granted pardon to an unrepentant convict opened my eyes to the grim reality: she does not deserve to be one.”

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JUSTICE MOCKED: He added: “Nowhere in our law books, or in the Constitution, does it provide that a former president is a cut above all else. We are all equal in the eyes of the law. An opposite stand runs counter to the principle of equal protection.

“Granting pardon before the finality of the Sandiganbayan decision compounds the issue. Some may argue that the decision became final before the grant of pardon. But Erap withdrew his right to an MR and appeal way before the lapse of the reglementary period.

“Equal protection is a sacred guarantee that every Filipino shall be on equal footing. Sadly, this did not apply to Erap.

“In dispensing justice, the law balances punishment with the gravity of the criminal act. To grant pardon based wholly on human compassion but without retribution is a blatant mockery of justice.

“Would Gloria’s act be the same if Erap were just 60 years old? I say yes, for she has bargained the soul of the poor Filipino as a sacrifice to the altar of convenient politics.”

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DUBAI WORLD: Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of global holding company Dubai World, slipped into town some time back for talks with President Arroyo.

Business sources said the government is courting Dubai World to invest here after it communicated a serious intention to look at the prospects.

Dubai World man ages the business portfolio of the oil and gas-rich Dubai government, including investments, transport and logistics, free zones, commodities, financial services, maritime services, e-commerce, hospitality and leisure, health care, retail, utilities, aviation, and property development.

Actually, Dubai World already has a presence in the Philippines through DP World. This is its key subsidiary, which is the world’s fourth biggest operator and developer of maritime terminals but the first in terms of portfolio’s geographic spread.

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R.P. PRESENCE: The Southeast Asia Regional headquarters of DP World is based here. It partly owns Asian Terminal Inc. operating cargo services at the South Harbor, the Port of Batangas, the Mariveles Grains Terminal and the Port of South Cotabato.

DP World is the first global marine terminal operator to obtain an ISO/PAS 280000:2005, a certification that its security management systems and operations comply with international standards. Many of its operations are accredited to ISO 14001 Environment Standards and OGHSAS 18001 Safety Standards.

It operates 42 marine terminals in 22 countries, employing 30,000 professionals from 40 nationalities. These terminals have a combined handling capacity of 48 million TEU (20-foot equivalent container units).

Last year, they handled 42 million TEU, which translate to 100,000 containers from 170 ocean-going vessels a day. If placed end-to-end, the total container cargo that the company moved last year would span the globe five times.

It is developing 13 more marine terminals in nine countries, which will expand its presence to 27 countries. Its global capacity is projected to expand to 90 million TEU by 2017.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 30, 2007)

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