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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Estrada's Run

The recent decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow former President and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada is, once more, another shining example of the gutlessness and stupidity that permeates that once-august body.

It appears that the premise of the Comelec is that the people should decide whether Estrada deserves to be reelected. If that’s the case, what was the point of disqualifying all the other so-called nuisance candidates? Shouldn’t the people be allowed to decide whether Oliver Lozano or Elly Pamatong be allowed to, God forbid, become the President of the Philippines?

At the same time, the Comelec was selective in its interpretation of the Constitution, saying that the statement “The President” refers only to the incumbent, which is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Thus, according to the Comelec, Estrada is qualified to run. But it should be noted that the whole statement in Section 4 of Article VIII of the Constitution reads “The President shall not be eligible for any re-election.” Therefore, Estrada, having been President, can no longer run, according to that interpretation of the Constitution.

But, wait, the succeeding sentence reads, “No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.” Since Estrada was ousted less than three years into his Presidency, shouldn’t that qualify him to run? This depends on whom you ask, considering Estrada claims he never resigned from office. To use this argument, Estrada would have to accept the controversial ruling of the Supreme Court that he had “constructively resigned”. This is something he and his followers have been denying ever since. If he wants to run, he has no choice but to accept the Court’s ruling.

Estrada, who was present at the Comelec’s reading of the decision regarding his case, immediately gave voters an idea of what would happen under another go at the Estrada presidency. “I want to be king again,” were Estrada’s exact words, which just goes to show how much he understands what it means to be President. A President, by any stretch of the imagination, is not a divine right, no matter how much Estrada and his sycophants wish it so.

Another thing that’s worrisome is that some business leaders, who used to back Estrada since they were able to gain concessions from him, might actually shift their support to Estrada, in the hopes that they will once more benefit from Estrada’s policies.

On the bright side, the shuffling of support might actually cut into Senator Manny Villar’s campaign, since both he and Estrada claim the masses as their support base. With Villar slowly creeping up on Senator Noynoy Aquino, Villar may soon find that Estrada may be drawing support from Villar’s base, the masses.

I would think that no one in his right mind would want to see a repeat of Estrada’s disastrous policies. Then again, since this is the Philippines, such a scenario is not really farfetched. Should that come to pass, though, I will probably find a way to move out of this country, who would put a criminal back into a seat of power.

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