Zambo Norte mayors: Respect Erap verdict
By Franklin P. Gumapon
Dipolog City (13 September) -- "We respect the unanimous decision of the three justices of Sandiganbayan. With Erap's verdict, I feel that justice has been served."
This was the answer of Mayor Crisostomo Eguia Jr. of Katipunan town when asked about his reaction to the Erap verdict this morning.
Eguia said he could feel that justice has been served after the Sandiganbayan handed down a guilty verdict on former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada of plunder.
Another town mayor, Bert Macias of Sindangan municipality, also urged that "the law must be respected," as no one is above the law.
Mayor Rolando Tablezo of Leon Postigo town, on the other hand, gave a solemn warning to all government officials saying, "If the former President is guilty beyond reasonable doubt (of plunder) then it's a great lesson to all public servants."
However, there were also a few mayors who could not yet say whether or not they agree with the Sandiganbayan decision, as they still have to read the entire decision of the graft court.
On the part of the Palace, Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement that "we bow to the decision of the Sandiganbayan," hoping that the rule of law would prevail and that this sad episode of the country's history would not distract the government from pursuing its goals for peace and economic growth.
The graft court has found former President Estrada guilty of plunder, a crime which punishes the use of high office for personal enrichment. He was meted out reclusion perpetua, an imprisonment of at least 30 years, unless a person "by reason of his conduct or some other serious cause shall be considered by the Chief Executive as worthy of pardon."
With Erap's conviction, a government official here who asked not to be named said "the verdict serves as a warning to all public servants not to be lured into using their office to enrich themselves at the expense of the government coffers. (PIA-ZN) [top]