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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 14:43 GMT
Estrada pardon: Filipinos' views
Ex-Philippine President Joseph Estrada has been pardoned by his successor Gloria Arroyo, just weeks after he was jailed for life for corruption.

As part of the deal, Estrada guaranteed he would not seek office again - fuelling accusations that Mrs Arroyo's move was politically motivated.

Here, readers from the Philippines discuss what is behind the move and what implications it will have for the country's politics.

DAVE RYAN BUARON, 27, BANK WORKER, MANILA

Dave Ryan Buaron
Dave Ryan Buaron thinks it's time to move on
Although the idea of a pardon has been floated around, we were all surprised when it was handed out so quickly after the guilty verdict.

Members of the opposition also seemed to have been caught by a surprise. The person they had looked up to in their constant attempts to topple the Arroyo administration is suddenly giving his seal of approval to her rise to power.

I would have wanted Estrada to serve his full sentence, but I think it's better to concern ourselves with more important global issues, rather than petty Third World politicking.

Filipinos have other things to worry about rather than the fate of a man who had been nothing but a polarising figure in Philippines politics.

We all know that the Estrada pardon smacks of a clever political move on behalf of the Arroyo camp, to turn the attention away from corruption scandals and the persistent allegations of human rights violations and political killings.

The people are tired with allegations and political machinations.

With so many Filipinos opening up to the realities of more important global issues, I think that Philippine politics will slowly move into a new era of pragmatism and maturity.

DOMINIQUE CIMAFRANCA, 37, IT WORKER, DAVAO, MINDANAO

Dominique Cimafranca
Dominique Cimafranca: Nothing has changed in Philippines politics
Given the nature of Philippines politics, there was hardly any doubt that Estrada would be pardoned. Despite his conviction, he still wields significant political clout.

What is shocking about the pardon is that it came just six weeks after the conviction, and that it was given by the administration that replaced him in the first place.

There are political reasons behind the pardon. It comes at a time when the Arroyo administration is reeling from yet another series of high-profile corruption scandals.

By pardoning him now, President Arroyo is angling for realignment of political forces to ensure her administration's survival.

By winning over the Estrada faction in the opposition, she may forestall another impeachment attempt and push forward a legislative agenda of charter change.

But the timing and the nature of the pardon represents the nadir in morality, ethics, and plain good taste in Philippines politics.

We clamoured for Estrada's ousting in 2001 because of his blatant corruption, gambling pay-offs and insider trading.

If Estrada's removal was symbolic of our desire for a change for the better, then his pardon is symbolic of the fact that so very little has changed.

FATIMA LASAY, 37, ARTIST AND WRITER, MANILA

Fatima Lasay
Fatima thinks that Arroyo is the wrong person to pardon Estrada
Given all the allegations of corruption against Arroyo, I think that she is the wrong person to use the wisdom of executive clemency.

It is not a question of whether it is right or wrong to pardon Estrada - she is the wrong person to do it.

Any criminal must be punished for their deeds in accordance with the law. But the law also favours mercy as well as justice, and that mercy is especially biased towards the poor, the underclass.

When President Arroyo's own pardon powers were being awaited by poor female prisoners over the age of 70 last year, she took so long that some of these women died before she could pardon them. And some of these women were in prison for crimes as small as smoking pot.

But it took her only six weeks to pardon a rich, powerful and immensely popular man, who has been convicted for plundering the nation.

A pardon is more an act of grace than an act of law. But when you give the wrong person the right means then the right means will turn out the wrong way.

Some people of power - and mercy - have learnt to tactically use what is right and corrupt it for their own private gain.

JOSE LUIS LEGARDA, 50, LANGUAGE CONSULTANT, MANILA

Jose Luis Legarda
Jose Luis Legarda is disillusioned with the country's politicians
Pardoning Erap [Joseph Estrada's nickname] was the wrong thing to do.

There is no way that a pardon for a criminal like him can ever be justified. He continues to be unrepentant and has always shown contempt for the law.

Nowhere in the constitution does it say that a pardon should be granted at a lightning speed as was the case with Erap.

There must be a procedure to review the case before the president can pardon the convicted criminal. No such procedure took place. It was obviously a done deal.

It is tragic that in the Philippines there is one law for the rich and the powerful and another for the poor and the helpless.

In this country everything is so distorted and confused because every leader in our history has twisted the law for their own convenience.

I was one of those pinning my hopes on Gloria Arroyo, but after this episode, I think there is no hope for this nation.


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Estrada freed
26 Oct 07 |  In Pictures
Convicted Estrada's tranquil jail
12 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Estrada gets life for corruption
12 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: The Philippines
25 Oct 07 |  Country profiles




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