Desperately Espousing People
An assessment of the pro-Erap response to the arrest of Joseph Ejercito Estrada by KOMPIL II
The debate about whether Estrada should be jailed or not is not all about the rich versus the poor nor the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration versus the Joseph Ejercito Estrada administration.
The arrest of deposed President Joseph Ejercito Estrada a.k.a. Jose Velarde is the triumph of every Filipino who sympathized with People Power II. It is a major step in the quest for justice of a people that have long suffered from injustice, graft and corruption and political machinations. It is a necessary step to correct a mistake we made in the past of not having served justice against Ferdinand Marcos and his family and cronies. The issue here is the criminal liability of a President who shamelessly violated the laws of the land and who now faces trial before the courts to prove his innocence amidst overwhelming evidence that has been presented against him during his impeachment trial. Joseph Ejercito Estrada is charged with plunder. These charges are anchored on the alleged P430 million "jueteng" money, the P130 million on tobacco excise taxes, the P500 million deposits at the Equitable-PCI bank under the name of Jose Velarde, the P2.4 billion Coastal Road project, and the mansions of Estrada's mistresses.
In the impeachment process, it was established that while he was President, Joseph Ejercito Estrada allegedly kept a secret PhP3.2 billion bank account at the Equitable PCI Bank under the alias of Jose Velarde. Later, it was revealed, after the controversial second envelope released by Equitable PCI Bank was opened, that he kept other accounts totaling billions of pesos in several banks using different names.
Let us be reminded that it was also established that he kept several mansions worth hundreds of millions of pesos for his several mistresses. Let us recall that it is the same people who are now calling for Erap's release and resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who were among those who voted against the opening of the contents of the second envelope—these are Sens. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Tito Sotto, Juan Ponce-Enrile and Gringo Honasan.
Let us also be aware about the admission of former Presidents of Ding Pascual of SSS and Chuckie Arellano of GSIS that Erap ordered them to use SSS and GSIS funds to finance questionable investments of his cronies. These monies came from the workers's sweat and blood - the poor whom Erap allegedly upholds yet whom he exploits to feed his greed and lavish lifestyle.
These alleged crimes are a blatant betrayal of the trust bestowed on him by the 11 million Filipino who voted for him in the 1998 elections. Under the Penal Code, these crimes are punishable by death and are non-bailable. As such, he deserves to be jailed after the charges have been filed against him. Now we must let justice take its course.
KOMPIL II believes that the arrest of Joseph Ejercitio Estrada is justice being served for all the wrongs that he has done to the Filipino people. We commend that government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration for its resolve in meting out justice while displaying courtesy to a former President. The filing of charges against Erap, his arrest and detention and the pursuit of justice against him and all his co-accused are a concrete manifestation of the consistency of this government in carrying our its commitment when it assumed power under the aegis of People Power 2.
At the EDSA Shrine now is a crowd of emotional and violence-proned pro-Erap supporters shouting for the resignation of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the immediate release of deposed President Joseph Estrada. Sadly, they are desecrating hallowed ground. Loudly, they have shouted obscenities to His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin, trashed the EDSA shrine surroundings, clambered up the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, vandalized the marker stating that the EDSA Shrine as Holy Ground and vandalized the walls where some shamelessly relieved themselves. Despite appeals from JV Ejercito, they are continuously harassing the media while at the same time complaining that they are not being objectively covered. The Iglesia ni Cristo has committed its support to this action and is mobilizing its constituency.
El Shaddai seems undecided and vacillating. One of their leaders declared on national television that the activity at EDSA Shrine is obviously part of the political propaganda of the Puwersa ng Masa. Possibly, the wanton desecration by the Pro-Erap rallyists of the symbols of the Catholic Church is dissuading the El Shaddai from taking part in this political action although several of their leaders supported Erap during People Power 2.
Compared to the speeches that dwell on issues during People Power II, the rantings at the EDSA Shrine at this point are those of politicians aspiring to get sympathy votes for the May 14 Elections. The sagging forces of the Puwersa ng Masa senatorial candidates are using this event to the fullest. Each night is an opportunity for them to hold their miting de avance while the survey indicates that the People Power Coalition is pulling ahead at either 9-4 or 10-3 with two weeks to go before election day. The captive audience is being agitated to take action to oust Arroyo and reinstall Erap into the presidency.
Compared to the peaceful crowd during People Power I and II, the crowd at the EDSA Shrine are unruly and harsh and the mass action is violent and disorganized. The handlers of Erap Estrada, obviously politicians and cronies, are perpetrating this and inciting a class war. With Estrada in jail, they have nothing to gain and everything to lose. In an attempt to reclaim their political and economic fortunes, they are promoting anarchy hoping that in the process this will give them the opportunity to gain the upper hand.
The victims of these manipulative and deceitful tactics are the genuinely poor loyalists who believe that Erap is their messiah. These are people who were vulnerable to Erap's machination and exploitation because they feel betrayed by previous political administration. Unfortunately, they do not seem to realize that these monied politicians and cronies are just using them to protect and pursue their own vested interests. This is an insult to the poor because these handlers know that PhP500 pesos is a welcome relief to a poor family struggling to put food on their table. Once again they exploit the poor in their desperation.
Like People Power I and II, the present political action in EDSA is a legitimate act of redress of grievance by the people. Unlike the two successful bloodless People Power revolts, this one has no moral basis. It is presumptuous of its organizers to call it People Power 3.