Friday, January 23, 2015

Pardon the politics | Inquirer Opinion

See - Pardon the politics | Inquirer Opinion

"x x x.

Judge for yourself: “Whereas, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has been under detention for six and a half years; whereas, [he] has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or office … I hereby grant executive clemency to Joseph Ejercito Estrada, convicted by the Sandiganbayan of plunder and imposed a penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby restored to his civil and political rights.”

This was carefully crafted to tiptoe around the issue of whether Estrada can seek public office again—that is to say, whether the punishment of perpetual disqualification remained despite the pardon. After all, that is what the Revised Penal Code says: “A pardon does not work the restoration of the right to hold public office … unless such rights be expressly restored by the terms of the pardon.”

But on the other hand, Arroyo did give an unconditional pardon, no ifs or buts about it (“I hereby grant executive clemency…”). Under the Revised Penal Code, the effect of that pardon is the “total extinction of criminal liability.” In addition to that, she stated expressly that Estrada was thus “restored to his civil and political rights.” Since his right to run for public office was the only such right that he lost by virtue of his conviction, that was as express a restoration of right as one can find in the terms of a pardon. That presumably was the reading of 13 justices as against the three dissenting members of the high court.

x x x."

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