MANILA (Mabuhay) – Malacañang on Wednesday denied any plan to oust Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who is facing a disqualification case, from office.
“We would like to assure Mayor Estrada and with all due respect to whatever was mentioned to him or confided to him by his allies, we have no plan to eliminate Mayor Estrada,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing.
He added that they “certainly do not know the basis of those allegations.”
Lacierda was responding to queries regarding reports reaching Estrada, a former President who was ousted in 2000 following allegations of corruption, that the Aquino administration is planning to use the disqualification case pending before the Supreme Court to remove him from office.
The complainant in the disqualification case, Alicia Risos-Vidal, argued in her petition that in the pardon granted to Estrada in 2007 weeks after he was found guilty of plunder by the Sandiganbayan, there was a “whereas” clause stating that “Whereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or office.”
Distance from SC
Lacierda, however, said they have always “maintained a distance” from the Supreme Court, where the case is currently pending.
“So I don’t know why they are now alluding to our involvement when we don’t even know the proceedings that are happening before the Supreme Court in respect [to] the disqualification case against Mayor Estrada,” he said.
He also said that the relationship between the Estradas and Aquinos has always been good.
“I don’t know when was the last time they met but I certainly remember the kind words that Mayor Estrada offered at the time of the sickness of the late President Cory Aquino,” he said.
“There have been no instances of acrimony between the two families or between the two Presidents,” he added.
Plan vs. opposition?
Malacañang had already belied any “systematic plan” to bring down the opposition following the issuance of arrest orders against two opposition senators, Estrada’s son Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., and the ouster of Estrada’s nephew, ER Ejercito, as Laguna governor.
On Wednesday, Lacierda said Ejercito’s case was tried by the Commission on Elections, a body independent from the executive branch. Similarly, he said the case against Jinggoy stemmed from the investigation of the Commission on Audit, another agency independent from the executive.
On the other hand, he said the case against Mayor Estrada was also not initiated by them.
“These are instances that… [were] initiated or have been decided or are being decided by other bodies and another branch of government, separate and independent from the executive branch,” Lacierda said.
“Elective officials serve at the sufferance of the governed. So, it’s the people who will mandate whether one will prefer a public official to be elected or not, not the executive branch,” he added. (MNS)