Prosecutor opposes amnesty or pardon grant for Estrada
Manila (17 September) -- A prosecutor in former President Joseph Estrada's plunder case on Monday opposed an amnesty or pardon for the deposed leader who was convicted by the Sandiganbayan for plunder.
Speaking at the Kapihan ng Bayan Forum, Leonard de Vera – one of the private prosecutors in the plunder case – said granting either amnesty or absolute pardon to Estrada will send a wrong message that there's double standard in the justice system.
De Vera noted that granting amnesty or pardon would virtually clear Estrada, adding that either option does not guarantee national unity as envisioned by proponents.
He, however, stressed that this is merely his personal view since private and government prosecutors have not arrived at a consensus on the issue.
"Pardon is a single act of the President while amnesty is initiated by the President but she needs the approval of the majority of Congress so it means that it will not be the decision of President Arroyo alone. In both cases it will be like Estrada has not committed any crime, he will be unblemished," De Vera said
Proposals for granting amnesty or pardon for Estrada cropped up shortly after the Sandiganbayan convicted the former President of plunder on Sept. 12 and handed down a sentence of reclusion perpetua, or imprisonment of up to 40 years.
Estrada's spokesman, Representative Rufus Rodriguez earlier said Estrada is more keen on an amnesty than a pardon, saying the amnesty was among the issues that Estrada and his legal team tackled over the weekend.
On the other hand, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said will support an amnesty for President Joseph Estrada, only if the latter would accept it.
In an ambush interview, Binay told reporters that an amnesty will be welcome for the opposition as long as the guilty sentence against Estrada will be removed and the government clears Estrada of plunder.
"If (former) President Estrada will accept it, we will support that. You know the decision on whether to accept it or not belongs to the person where the offer is given. In this case, it is President Estrada who will decide on it," Binay said.
For his part, Donald Dee, chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said granting Estrada either a presidential pardon or amnesty would be good for the business community.
In the forum, Dee noted that a closure to the plunder issue is important so that to stabilize the political environment and allow business to move on.
"We must now look for a mechanism to have closure (to the plunder issue). The former President should be either given pardon or amnesty but that is up to the lawyers. What is important is to arrive at a decision soon so that we can move on," Dee said.
Dee affirmed that the Sandiganbayan's verdict last week was positively accepted by the business sector as proven by the strengthening of the peso since last week. (PIA-MMIO) [top]