Erap reminds Noynoy: Cory freed CPP leader Joma Sison
This was said by Estrada on Monday, reacting to Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III’s earlier statement that Mrs. Arroyo should not have pardoned the deposed leader.
During GMA News and Public Affairs’ Hiritan 2010, Estrada took a dig at his rival in the presidential race and criticized Mrs. Aquino's decision to release Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison.
"Noong naupo ang kaniyang ina eh, pinarelease niya ang komunista na si Jose Maria Sison, tapos pinasunod niya si [Nur] Misuari [at pinalaya] niya si…Kumander Dante," Estrada said, referring to former Moro National Liberation Front chairman Nur Misuari and former New People’s Army leader Bernabe “Dante" Buscayno.
(When his mother became president, she ordered the release of communist Jose Maria Sison, allowed Nur Misuaro to return and freed Kumander Dante.)
Estrada then criticized the prevailing problem with communist rebels in the country. "Hanggang ngayon problema pa ng ating gobyerno (Until now, it remains the government’s problem)," he said.
Sison and Buscayno were among the high-profile political detainees released when Mrs. Aquino rose to power after the ouster of former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
Sison, who founded the CPP in December 1968, is in self-exile in Netherlands while Buscayno is reportedly heading a farmers’ cooperative in Tarlac.
The CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), are represented by the National Democratic Front in its peace negotiations with the Philippine government. The formal talks bogged down in 2004 but government and NDF negotiators are trying to revive the negotiations.
It was also during the early days of the Aquino administration that Misuari came back to the Philippines after being in exile in Saudi Arabia during the Marcos regime. A peace pact with the MNLF was signed not during the Aquino administration, but during the presidency of Fidel Ramos.
In a separate ambush interview on Monday, Estrada said he was "not offended" when Noynoy Aquino said President Arroyo should not have pardoned him after he was convicted of plunder in September 2007.
Estrada also said it was Mrs. Arroyo’s prerogative to grant him executive clemency, which he said he did not ask for.
"Hindi ako hihingi ng pardon. Binigay sa akin, bakit naman hindi ko tatanggapin (I did not ask for any pardon. It was given to me, why will I not accept it)," the former leader told Hiritan 2010 host Arnold Clavio.
This, even as Estrada — through his lawyer Jose Flaminiano — formally asked President Arroyo to grant him pardon after his lawyers withdrew an appeal for the Sandiganbayan to reverse its Sept. 12, 2007 ruling that found him guilty of plunder. — RSJ, GMANews.TV