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PIA Press Release

Ilocanos also glued to TV sets, radios during Erap's verdict

by Cristina Arzadon

LAOAG CITY (13 September) -- Several city hall workers started piling up early at the city hall lobby where a television monitor was tuned to a cable program for the scheduled reading of Estrada's promulgation.

Some erupted to cheers when the verdict on perjury case found Estrada not guilty. "We knew he could not be guilty of the charge," a female employee said.

The joy did not last long, however, when the second verdict on the charge of perjury found Estrada not guilty.

The workers appeared confused that the decisions on the separate offenses were different more so that only the dispositive portions of the decisions were read.

Meanwhile, tricycle drivers who were taking a break from their route stayed longer as usual at a roadside store where a tv set carrying the coverage of the promulgation was on.

One driver started shaking his head when he learned that Estrada had been convicted of plunder.

"He does not deserve it. The judges were politically pressured to convict Erap," he said.

Meanwhile, Former City Prosecutor Manuel Aurelio said the guilty verdict has legitimized the stay of President Macapagal Arroyo in Malacañang.

"The decision had made the ouster of Estrada to legitimate as well," he added.

"But if he would have been acquitted, it would not have looked good because his being booted out of Malacañang would not have been lawful and there would have been no basis for leaving his office."

Aurelio said had Estrada been acquitted, the masses supportive of Erap could have been provoked to rise in protest against the Arroyo administration.

"The long-running effect of an acquittal would have served as a festering sore on the hearts of the masses who love Erap so much. The (acquittal) could have provoked masses and the security of any country rests on a contented and unprovoked masses," Aurelio said.

Aurelio said Estrada's being continuously detained at his rest house in Tanay should not be construed as a special treatment.

"He may not have been detained in a prison cell but any restriction of your freedom is still detention. The contention of freedom is, you are free to move about, free to do anything you want and go everywhere you want. Does he enjoy this freedom? Not at all because he is in detention and his movement is restricted."

For her part, Erlinda Ramiro, Provincial Population Commission Officer, said Estrada had already served his punishment by being detained for six years.

Ramiro said Estrada may have committed an offense but that is was a mere human error.

"The humiliation that came along with his detention is more than enough to pay his crime. He is only human," she added.

Ramiro feared that the conviction of Estrada could spark protest rallies against the Arroyo government.

"Now that he is convicted, Filipinos will again suffer because protest rallies would be everywhere while the curse of this administration will continue," she said. (PIA) [top]

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