October 28, 2007 · Posted in: Governance, Human Rights, In the News

Pardon me…

THE recent grant of pardon to former President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada, as emphasized by the order read by Press Secretary and Acting Executive Secretary Ignacio Bunye, was in keeping with the Arroyo government’s policy of releasing convicted prisoners once they reach the age of 70. It was also noted that the convicted former leader’s close to seven years in detention was already punishment enough (never mind if he spent a lot of that time in an air-conditioned hospital suite and the last three years in his sprawling Tanay resthouse).

Moreover, despite the restoration of his civil and political rights, Estrada has committed not to seek any elective post or office. Besides, what could be a more humanitarian gesture than freeing Estrada to allow him to be by his ailing mother’s bedside?

Still, the pardon came just six weeks after the Sandiganbayan found Estrada guilty on two counts of plunder and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua, or a maximum prison term of 40 years.

There is, of course, no disputing the presidential prerogative to bestow executive clemency to deserving convicts. But it is a sad testament to the kind of justice that reigns in this country that the government will move heaven and earth — including bringing the release order by helicopter — to pardon a convicted former highest official of the land who swore to defend and preserve our laws, but would not extend the same to similarly situated, albeit ordinary, offenders.

Teresita Carabeo, for example, is serving a life term for large-scale illegal recruitment. Like him, she is now 70 years old. But unlike the disgraced president, Lola Teresita has already served her sentence longer than Estrada did: 13 years and five months at the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW).

Lola Teresita is not the only septuagenarian inmate at the Correctional. There are four others, some of whom are much older than she is:

  • Anita Goriona, 79, serving a life sentence for violation of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002
  • Pilar Ruiz, 76, serving 40 years also for drug offenses
  • Adang Adjsani, 70, meted life imprisonment also for drug offenses
  • Rosita Barba, 77, meted life imprisonment for illegal recruitment and estafa

Most of these elderly women are suffering from hypertension. The oldest, Lola Anita, who hails from Iloilo, is even blind in one eye.

Back in 2000, I wrote about how harsh jail terms were being meted out to low-level, first-time drug offenders, most of them women. By then, the number of females incarcerated for drug offenses had grown by 37 percent since 1997, and included seven women 60 years old and above, the CIW’s category of old age.

This figure included a 74-year-old laundrywoman suffering from cataract, diabetes, and arthritis who was convicted to life imprisonment for selling some 360 grams of marijuana. There was also a 73-year-old who had been sentenced to reclusion perpetua for marijuana possession. At the time, she had already served 14 and a half years — and was suffering from gout and had undergone cataract extraction.

In 1999, two months after she was transferred to the Correctional, 78-year-old Marcelina Biswek died of cancer while serving double life terms for selling 88 kilos of marijuana.

Unfortunately for them, a directive issued by then President Fidel Ramos suspended the processing for commutation of sentences of all cases involving convictions for violations of laws on prohibited drugs. Back then, there was also no Memorandum Circular No. 155, which would be issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004.

The CIW says it has released some 20 septuagenarian inmates out of compassion and for humanitarian grounds, as the Arroyo-issued memo stipulates. Yet there are still women who are already in the twilight of their years at the CIW today. A CIW official explains that most of them still have pending cases, which make them ineligible for pardon, according to a penitentiary policy. “Even if they have to die tomorrow, that’s the policy,” says the official.

Then again, there is no explanation why Lola Adang, who has no pending case, has yet to be recommended for pardon. A native of Jolo, Sulu, Lola Adang has spent the last year and four months in jail.

And in spite of the 2004 memo circular, some elderly inmates have also died while in incarceration at the women’s penitentiary.

Interestingly, there are fewer male convicts over the age of 70 at the minimum-security facility of the National Bilibid Prison. They are:

  • Antonio Amigo, 74, serving a sentence of 12 to 16 years for two counts of rape and sexual assault
  • Fermin Abalos, 73, sentenced to six to 14 years for homicide
  • Isidro Casin, 73, sentenced to 14 to 17 years for acts of lasciviousness

According to an NBP staff, convicted maximum- and medium-security prisoners who reach the age of 65 are automatically transferred to the minimum-security facility. Both Abalos and Casin have been with the minimum-security facility for over a year now, while Amigo has logged some three years already.

Had Arroyo not granted Estrada executive clemency last Thursday, October 25, Estrada may have gotten to know Abalos, Casin, and Amigo quite well. But he has been spared that experience; instead of their company in prison, Estrada is now enjoying that of his family and friends, in the comfort of his Polk Street mansion in Greenhills.

8 Responses to Pardon me…



October 28th, 2007 at 6:01 pm

One of the two bases of Erap’s conviction was the P189 million commission that he got from SSS and GSIS in the purchase of Belle Corporatiomn shares at his behest.

Now that all of his assets have been confiscated by the government, I think it is only fair to the over 27 million SSS and GSIS members that the P189 million commission be returned to SSS and GSIS.

In addition, I think Carlos Arellano and Federico Padcual, then SSS and GSIS presidents, respectively, be held criminally liable for yielding to Estrada, in violation of their pledge to protect and promote the best interest of their members.

Amado F. Cabaero
Founding Chair and first Natl. President
Phil. Assn. of Retired Persons (PARP)



October 28th, 2007 at 7:12 pm

This is the kind of justice that the poor deserve! They rot in jail while those who committed one of the highest crimes as plunder was even given the haste of absolute pardon! Now tell me Madame President, when are you going to release these inmates who have reached their 70 years? We know they are poor and no politicians will ever push for their pardon. But pardon me Madame President, where is justice here? Now tell me also Madame President, if this is the kind of justice we have in the Philippines, are we going to blame those who left this corrupt, unjust and immoral society and went to the hills, those who wish to separate from this Republic?

Where is justice here?



October 29th, 2007 at 1:40 am

One of the reasons the President cited for granting the Pardon was compassion, that it was the President policy to grant pardon to inmates who have reached the age of 70..hogwash..

First, the sentences for the women in your entry were all cruel and unusual for the crimes of which they were convicted and somewhere you have also posted 3 males over 70 serving non-life sentence for Violent Crimes, Killings…

All the four women were convicted of non-violent crimes although serious, do not deserve Life Sentences or 40 years.

Sometimes it is no wonder at all that a Plunderer whose incarceration will put in question the fate of all other plunderers was let go free. Justice as seen through the eyes of those who could be in the same fate in the opportune time..



October 29th, 2007 at 11:41 am

Relaxing moments in history?

After five years there had never been any barangay elections, to have one gives that feeling of people empowerment. In the higher scheme of things, it only signals the start of a recruitment process, with Malacanang, Inc. as a huge recruitment agency for patronizing new or old punong barangays and barangay kagawads throughout the archipelago. Truly, political power starts at the base of the pyramid.

Then again, after six years or so of imprisonment, former president Erap is granted executive clemency as a Thursday gift – irrespective of whether or not there was a request for pardon. The thought of his freedom is just about the greatest blessing that can descend to the consciousness of an ailing mother of one hundred and two. From every perspective, GMA is cast to have played the underdog. And such is part of our crippling Filipino mentality.

FVR remains a resident evil in RP’s realpolitik – with or without any official authority. And it is as if, he is the only one who can pull leverage or shield GMA from serious attacks. Inferential thinking tells us that, to some extent, FVR shares power with GMA, through his military clones placed in sensitive positions of government. After all, military power is always held supreme. Or what is that 100-day ultimatum given to lady Gloria?

Then there goes the CBCP and its vicious claim to the moral high ground. But who really understood any of those pastoral letters circulated in public? In not a single instance, had the pastoral letter cater to the IQ of the ordinary man in the street as not even the bishops in their own fold comprehend their true import. CBCP’s moral position coming always late, opens it to negotiation – or to the highest bidder, call it that. Who really cares about CBCP anyway?

Other more serious political developments or events become hidden from public view. The ABZTEFG, the impeachment move, the payolas in the House – all these really have to ‘back off’, matter-of-factly. The business of the day is the remaining years of GMA’s term as president. It must turn full circle – hassle-free.

If push turns to shove, Malacanang may have to dispense with JDV and the fund mess in the House that left no trace. Erap is left with no option but to accept a cabinet position patronizing of GMA even while the government sequesters most of his assets and earnings from you know where. Political realignment would turn into a myth as Erap’s perceived sphere of influence has just been skillfully ‘detonated’.

Trillanes, being in jail, remains a mere shadow. Proxy senator is simply no senator. In the end, it will be a total waste of government funds except if his entire annual P200-million appropriation be utilized to build the biggest jail yard the country will ever have. That would have been an unparalleled legacy from a young alumnus of PMA. Ironically, Gringo broke only a leg and played along the grain – a highly-paid recruit.

Vocal critics against GMA are on the silent mode. Cayetano and Escudero are chips that fall in place. In a game of bend or break, they, indicatively, are inherently bendable. Only Trillanes remains to be the young idealistic, principled, and true reformist of the pack. Others chose to run away as cowards – the likes of Samuel Ong, et al. Allan Paguia chose to be at a hitting distance – fragile but brave. Kit Tatad is always a mere antidote, antidotal no end.

Any form of power grab attempted at GMA is predictably anti-climactic. It holds no future. The remaining years of the Arroyo administration will usher in a smooth turn-over to the new Palace occupant come 2010. Paradoxically enough, we saw the make-over done to Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Gringo Honasan and others.

It is disheartening to realize that there is no one left to fight the status for its excesses, no advocacy group strong enough to yield powerful influence as to be able to tilt the balance of power to its side, no single individual that the Palace would heed – not a Velarde, not a Villanueva, not a Manalo.

As soon as the one-year ban has already expired, more sensitive positions in government will be occupied by the senatorial losers. It may be RP’s boon or bane. Either way it goes, the Filipino people will be its first casualties or beneficiaries. It then bears watching what doomsday scenario will soon unfold.

U.P. Diliman, Quezon City Email: nielsky_2003@yahoo.com Cell: 09164985265


The Equalizer

October 30th, 2007 at 9:43 pm

The Nobel Peace Prize 2008

We respectfully propose to The Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2008, in alphabetical order, to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada and Ronaldo Puno for their efforts to create peace and national reconciliation in the Republic of the Philippines.The three nominees have worked hard to establish a political democratic atmosphere and firm respect for majesty of the Law (following the dictum of “justice delayed is justice denied”)

For the past decade, the conflict the “Pro Erap” forces (the “masa” ) and the “Pro Gloria” (the ruling elite), has been among the most irreconcilable and menacing in Philippine politics. The parties have caused each other great suffering.

By negotiating the The Presidential Pardon For Erap , and subsequently following it up with the quick pardon after six (6) weeks from the conviction of Erap by the Sandigan Bayan, Arroyo,Estrada and Puno have made substantial contributions to a historic process through which peace and cooperation can replace a bitter political feud and possibly a dangerous civil war and hate among Filipinos.

In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel wrote that the Peace Prize could be awarded to the person who, in the preceding year, “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations”.

The proposed award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2008 to Arroyo, Puno and Estrada is intended to honor a political act which called for great courage on both sides, and which has opened up opportunities for a new development towards fraternity in the Philippines.

It is our hope that the Committee will give the award to these great Filipinos to serve as an encouragement to all the Filipinos of different political persuasions who are working to establish lasting peace in this important country in the strategic ASEAN region.

The Profiles of the Proposed Nobel Peace Prize Awards for 2008

1) President Gloria Arroyo: She has declared the Philippines as the most democratic country in our region. “We have no tolerance for human rights violations at home or abroad.” GMA Speech in the UN General Assembly;Sept.28,2007

2)Ex- President Joseph Estrada:He served more than six years in detention — six years and six months to be exact. First in an air-conditioned suite at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, and then at his own well-appointed rest house in Tanay town, outside Manila .

3)Secretary Ronaldo Puno :The Peacemaker between President Gloria Arroyo and President Joseph Estrada. He is arguably one of the most successful campaign managers in Philippine politics. He supported the presidential bids of eventual winners Ferdinand Marcos,Fidel Ramos,Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

PS:JOKE only (trick or treat !)


The Equalizer

October 31st, 2007 at 8:36 pm

Excerpts from a Presidential Speech of Resignation

Good evening my countrymen:

This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest.

In all the decisions I have made in my public life, I have always tried to do what was best for the Nation.

In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its conclusion, that to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that deliberately difficult process and a dangerously destabilizing precedent for the future.

But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe that the constitutional purpose has been served, and there is no longer a need for the process to be prolonged.

I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interests of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations.
I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of the country first.

The nation needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.

To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great national issues of economic prosperity and political stability..

Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow. The Vice President will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.

By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of that process of healing which is so desperately needed in this country.

I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my judgments were wrong, and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed at the time to be the best interest of the Nation.

To those who have stood with me during these past difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed it was right, I will be eternally grateful for your support.

And to those who have not felt able to give me your support, let me say I leave with no bitterness toward those who have opposed me, because all of us, in the final analysis, have been concerned with the good of the country, however our judgments might differ.

To have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with our people. In leaving it, I do so with this prayer: May God’s grace be with you in all the days ahead.


Eric D.C.

November 1st, 2007 at 1:33 pm

When I heard the news of the executive clemency that PGMA is about to give to Former President Estrada, I am not surprised at all – Politics in the Philippines has been consistently abused by its players. However, I’m still saddened by the fact that those people who pushed the button to unseat the former president and call for good governance are the same people waving their hands welcoming him, hayyyy….

What kind of leaders do we have? What happened to the so- called civil society? Are they still intact? What is now the position of Fmr. Pres. Aquino and of his son, Sen. Noynoy Aquino and of his partymates in the Liberal Party? Abad, Kiko, Mar? What about the “chameleon-like” Villar and his personality-based Nationalista? What about those military generals?

What about the six years of proving ERAP guilty?

It all went to NOTHING…

Is it because of our values – forgiving the sinners? or does it has something to do with self-interest of our self-serving political players?

What can I say? Philippines politics is consistent with its thrust of making the lives of its players (trapos) convenient and wealthier; ignoring the real sentiments of the people -truth, rule of law, and justice.



November 2nd, 2007 at 7:15 pm

one: pinoys are now confirmed as morons… we let this happen.. how dare we… but on the ontherside.. we provide laughs to foreigners we condemn and plead to at the same time..

second: what the crap is this unity ideology… if they say the pardon is to reconcile the country… are they saying they still have followers? are they saying they are the great two leaders of the country and them getting along is the only way for the country to heal…

let me ask you, who is a follower of either of these super morons?

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