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Erap withdraws appeal, asks for presidential pardon - DOJ

October 22, 2007 4:52pm

(Updated 6:13 p.m.) Former President Joseph Estrada, through his counsels, has asked President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to grant him pardon. This, after his lawyers withdrew Estrada's appeal for the Sandiganbayan to reverse its September 12 guilty verdict on the plunder charges against the ousted chief executive.

Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said Estrada withdrew his motion for reconsideration and appealed for a "full, free and unconditional pardon."

Excerpts of the defense panel's three-page letter to President Arroyo, signed by Estrada's counsel Jose Flaminiano, was read on dzBB radio. The letter was dated October 22.

It stated: "Today we filed a withdrawal of his motion for reconsideration. President Estrada, himself, believes that appeal to the Supreme Court would be futile or even the possibility of a favorable judgment will not justify several more years of detention."

Flaminiano also wrote that the "delicate condition" of Estrada's 102-year-old ailing mother, Doña Mary Ejercito, "deteriorated when she learned of what has befallen her son."

He added that Estrada's ouster from the presidency and the "humiliation" that came with it was enough punishment already.

Warning of "bad feelings" that may "boil" should Estrada be locked up at the National Penitentiary, Flaminano appealed to Mrs Arroyo, "In the highest national interest, which President Estrada is always willing to subordinate his own, we appeal to Your Excellency to grant him full, free and unconditional pardon."

Estrada faces up to 40 years imprisonment after the Sandiganbayan found him guilty of plunder last September 12. He continues to maintain his innocence.

Lost cause?

Interviewed on dzBB radio, Flaminiano said Estrada gave his consent to send the letter to Mrs Arroyo.

"I'm leaving my faith entirely in your hands, I have faith and confidence in your good judgment," Flaminiano quoted Estrada as telling him.

Flaminiano said the defense panel felt that the motion for reconsideration was doomed, after Presiding Justice Teresita de Castro allegedly stated that the Sandiganbayan Special Division will stand by its "original guilty verdict."

Devanadera said three-page letter signed was dated October 22, or a day after Estrada ended his four-day extended furlough.

Estrada used his latest furlough to visit Doña Mary Ejercito at a San Juan City hospital and attend oral deliberations on his appeal at the Sandiganbayan.

President's call

Devanadera said the Department of Justice will review Estrada's appeal within the week and promptly submit their position to President Arroyo.

"We must be able to determine that there is really finality and that the withdrawal is really worded in a manner that it will result in the finality of the decision ... for as long as there is a final conviction, the decision is final and executory, then we can start making the recommendation," Devanadera said.

Mrs Arroyo can decide, Devanadera said, whether or not to fully or partially restore civil and political rights to Estrada.

She added that the 70-year-old Estrada was just being practical in seeking pardon, because the court room battle may last 10 years.

Earlier this month, the Estrada camp announced that it was ending talks with Malacañang for a possible granting of pardon.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, a spokesman for Estrada, earlier said that, "We believe this government is not sincere in talking with us."


Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno on Monday said he was "ecstatic" over Estrada's decision to drop his motion for reconsideration and seek presidential pardon instead.

Puno, interviewed on dzBB radio Monday evening, said it was heartening for him to see two presidents he served finally set aside their differences and unite for the nation.

"I'm really ecstatic. Tuwang tuwa ako rito. Para dito sa dalawang pangulo natin sa magkabilang dulo ng ating pulitika para maglapitan dito at magkaisa sa issue na ito at magtulong-tulong sa akin napakagandang simulain ito (I'm really ecstatic and happy. For two presidents on opposite sides of the fence to finally unite on the issue, this promises a good beginning)," he said.

Puno, who is also presidential political adviser, earlier initiated talks with Estrada for the latter's pardon at the former president's rest house in Tanay, Rizal.

Initial discussions, however, failed and eventually prompted Estrada's lawyers to continue their filing for a motion for reconsideration before the Sandiganbayan.

On October 3, the Estrada camp rejected the "conditional pardon" offered by Malacañang saying the conditions laid down by the administration were not acceptable to the former president.

Estrada's lawyers then said Malacañang wanted the former leader to apply for a pardon, admit his guilt, and wait for a final conviction by the court before he is granted a presidential pardon. - GMANews.TV
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