GMA can end Erap disqualification case saga — lawyer

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrives with husband, Jose Miguel, at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in Quezon City, Metro Manila, April 11, 2012. Arroyo entered a plead of not guilty to allegations of graft and corruption in the tainted telecommunications deal with China in 2007. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo (PHILIPPINES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrives with husband, Jose Miguel, at the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in Quezon City, Metro Manila, April 11, 2012. Arroyo entered a plead of not guilty to allegations of graft and corruption in the tainted telecommunications deal with China in 2007. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo (PHILIPPINES – Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)

MANILA (Mabuhay) -– Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can help in the resolution of the disqualification case of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, an election lawyer said Wednesday.

Romulo Macalintal said in the event the Supreme Court releases its decision on the disqualification of Estrada, either of the parties can ask Arroyo to issue a statement clarifying the pardon she gave in 2007 to Estrada, who was convicted of plunder.

Petitioners argue that Estrada can no longer run for public office since he ”has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or office,” as stated in his pardon.

”Yung pardon na ibinigay sa kanya ay mayroon nakalagay na siya ay nagsasabi na siya ay di na tatakbo sa anumang pampublikong posisyon. Yun ang ating pinaglalaban – bakit ilalagay ang linya na iyon kung hindi iyon kondisyon ng kanyang pardon?” petitioner Alicia Vidal said.

Estrada’s camp, however, noted that the pardon’s dispositive portion states that ”he is hereby restored to his civil and political rights.”

This, Estrada’s camp said, gives the former president and now Manila mayor the right to vote, and consequently, to be voted upon.

Macalintal explained that even if it was stated in the pardon that Estrada had stated that he is no longer running for public office, it was not binding as it was not included in the pardon’s dispositive portion.

”Sinabi lang niya iyon pero hindi iyon kondisyon sa pagbibigay ng pardon. Para lang isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit binibigay siya, pero hindi naman sinabi na kondisyon iyon,” Macalintal said.

The veteran election lawyer believes that Arroyo can resolve the gridlock.

”Kung sinong matatalo, siyempre magpa-file ng motion, at kung makukumbinse ang dating pangulong Arroyo na gumawa ng statement, that could be additional statement sa motion for reconsideration,” he said.

A similar disqualification case was filed against Estrada with respect to his presidential bid in 2010, but this was rendered moot and academic by the high court because he lost to then Senator Benigno Aquino III.

Macalintal said another issue regarding Estrada’s presidential bid was whether the latter should be allowed to run again for president. Estrada won in the 1998 presidential elections but was eventually ousted in a popular revolt. (MNS)

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