Friday, October 26, 2007

Pardoning Estrada

When the only things that matter is power and staying in power, there will be no room to consider questions of right and wrong. Those who hold it desperately because of their greed for what power brings and their fear of their enemies' reprisal will do everything to keep it -- regardless of who or how many they need to intimidate, bribe or kill.

It took me over an hour to drive from Pinaglabanan to V. Mapa along N. Domingo. Both sides of this narrow street, that winds through San Juan and brings one in front of the Munisipyo, were overflowing with Estrada's adoring supporters -- people who make no difference between Erap the actor and Erap the jailed leader. 'Welcome home Erap!' reads one banner, as if Erap had really been gone and been out of their sight all these six years. (For a man jailed and charged with plunder, he was able to move in and out of his confinement -- we can't even say he is behind bars, because there were no bars surrounding him and the police assigned to guard him could hardly be considered his jailors as there was no jail but a mansion.)

I don't know if all these people understand or even care what a pardon is and under what circumstances it had been given.

Yesterday, after watching Acting Executive Secretary Ignacio Bunye read the Grant of Pardon, I went out of my office building and rode a cab home. The cab driver was listening to the early evening newscast on the radio and so I asked him what he thought about Gloria's act of pardoning Estrada. The cabbie said, "Tama lang iyan, talagang wala namang kasalanan iyang si Erap eh."

My neighbor, who was drinking his fifth bottle of Red Horse on the sidewalk infront of his house, offered me this opinion. "Sa pagpapalaya kay Erap, inamin na rin ni Gloria na nagkamali sila nuong inagaw nila ang kapangyarihan kay Estrada. Si Erap, walang ninakaw sa kaban ng bayan pero si Gloria at ang kanyang mga kakampi, gaya niyang si Chavit, eh lahat magnanakaw."

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