MANILA (Mabuhay) – Former President and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has once again asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the disqualification case against him and to hold oral arguments so he could explain his side further.
In a 70-page memorandum, Estrada insisted that despite his plunder conviction in 2007, he can still run for public office because of the “unqualified and absolute” pardon extended to him by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In her petition with the Supreme Court, lawyer Alicia Risos-Vidal, a known lawyer of former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, contested the Commission on Elections decision to dismiss with finality her disqualification complaint against Estrada.
Last year, Lim asked and subsequently was allowed by the Supreme Court to intervene or participate in the case.
In her petition, Vidal stressed that Estrada’s conviction for plunder and his being sentenced to life imprisonment had rendered him disqualified to run for public office. She also said the executive pardon granted to him by Mrs. Arroyo specifically did not restore his right to run for public office.
In the pardon given to Estrada, there was a statement in the “whereas clause” that stated: “Whereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or office.”
But in his memorandum, Estrada maintained that this statement would “not suffice to qualify, restrict or limit the pardon granted to Estrada.”
“Indeed, the statement in the whereas clause of the pardon to the effect that ‘Joseph Ejercito Estrada has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or office’ is not really a condition for the grant of the pardon, but is merely part of a preliminary statement, referring to what Estrada had said publicly,” said the Estrada camp in its memorandum.
Estrada stressed that when Mrs. Arroyo pardoned him, his civil and political rights were restored without any restriction or limit.
“In other words, in so far as the restoration of Estrada’s civil and political rights are concerned, which necessarily includes the right to vote and to seek public elective office, the same is Unqualified and absolute in character,” said Estrada.
He said the “controlling” factor in the pardon paper was the dispositive part where it was categorically stated by Mrs. Arroyo that Estrada was “restored to his civil and political rights” without any restriction, limitation or qualification.
Prior to winning the 2013 mayoralty elections in Manila, Estrada sought the presidency in the 2010 national elections won by then-Senator Benigno Aquino III. Estrada placed second in that elections.
In his memorandum, Estrada once again asked the high tribunal to conduct an oral argument “so as to clarify some factual issues raised by the petitioner.”
“Thereafter, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Supreme Court that a Decision be promulgated dismissing the instant Petition and Petition-in-Intervention for utter lack of merit and affirming the eligibility and qualification of Private Respondent Joseph ‘Erap’ Ejercito Estrada as the duly elected Mayor of the City of Manila,” read the memorandum. (MNS)