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PIA Press Release

Editorial: On Former President Estrada Verdict

Manila (12 September) -- The Sandiganbayan found former President Joseph Estrada guilty for the crime of plunder beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced him to life imprisonment. He was allowed to stay at his rest house in Tanay, Rizal until further order.

The Court, likewise, ordered the forfeiture of former President Estrada's P542.701 million worth of bank accounts including interest, P189 million worth of Jose Velarde accounts including interest and the so-called Boracay mansion in New Manila, Quezon City.

The people welcome the court's decision for it shows that our judicial system works. It showed that all are subject to the rule of law in our country and that no one, not even the highest official of the land, is above it.

The Sandiganbayan justices, who are known for their integrity, honesty, and competence, are commended for thoroughly analyzing the evidence and arriving at a 1,000-page decision, the people have no reason to doubt.

The weight of evidence during the trial leaned heavily on direct positive evidence as against personal denials of wrongdoings. It was purely a question of evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

Closure has been found in this unprecedented case. The nation can now move on. Filipinos should respect and accept the verdict on his case and be one in the call for sobriety and circumspection and allow the process of the law to take its course.

We bow to the decision of the Sandiganbayan. We hope and pray that the rule of law will prevail. Meantime, we have a country to run, an economy to grow, and a peace to win. We hope that this sad episode in our history will not permanently distract us from these goals.

President Arroyo had imposed a 3-year deadline for her administration to wipe out armed movements fighting he government, while instituting an amnesty program for communist rebels-which the government also classifies as a terrorist group.

The Philippines is, likewise, "very serious" in its fight against corruption. The government has engaged the services of Mr. Tony Kwok of Hong Kong, who was the anti-corruption czar of Hong Kong.

The government is fighting corruption in terms of criminal justice, administrative controls and procedural reforms. Given priority in these efforts are the revenue agencies which is probably why they have been improving their performance.

The President acknowledged that while corruption is something that has plagued the country for a very long time and will not necessarily be obliterated overnight, the government is making progress. (PIA) [top]

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