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the sick sense

Erap refuses to get it

To the very end, Joseph Estrada would seek refuge in technicalities.

Under siege by tens of thousands of anti-Estrada protesters who reclaimed Mendiola from his lumpen supporters on January 20, the fourth day of People Power 2, the disgraced president was forced to finally leave Malacañang, his seat of power for the last two and a half years—but not without casting "serious" doubts on the legality and constitutionality of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's oath-taking as his successor.

A day after his unceremonious ouster, Estrada also sent a letter to the Senate asserting that he has not resigned but only designated Arroyo as acting president since he is presently unable to discharge his usual functions.

For all the kabobohan unfortunately ascribed to him, Erap does not come out incapable of comprehending the recent events that sealed his fate as president. He just refuses to get it, his Asiong Salonga machismo probably stung by the dizzying turn of events that altered the erstwhile sordid course of our history under an Erap presidency.

But that is only expected of a man who knows no scruples. To begin with, Estrada's stepping down did not come out of his own volition, as if he were suddenly seized by a moment of piety or love of country. He had all the time and opportunity to voluntarily resign but instead chose to hang onto power no matter the political, economic and social costs to the country. Well, he's not an inveterate high-stakes gambler for nothing.

Obviously, Mr. Estrada chooses to be selective about his and our collective memory of recent events when he suddenly remembers the Constitution. What he is silent about is that his cabal in the Senate, voting to suppress evidence inimical to him, rendered the impeachment trial "irrelevant and immaterial." That single act spelled doom to any constitutional resolution of the political crisis and paved the way for an outraged people to seek truth and justice in the streets.

Now, by raising technical questions fed to him by dubious legal minds whose motives are already suspect (haven't we had enough of these tactics during the impeachment trial?), Estrada merely tries to conceal the fact that he was ousted by a popular uprising, which effectively stripped him of whatever right or privilege to continue claiming the presidency as his. Doing so also would mean continuing to invoke his immunity from any suit, an argument that is not lost on his technicality-conscious defense counsels.

Ultimately, however, what remains beyond any shadow of doubt is that Estrada, by not executing his letter of resignation, showed himself to be a man bereft of any sense of honor, respecting neither the presidency nor the Filipino people from whom emanates all government authority.

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