It’s like I swallowed a yoyo and I don’t know if its coming up or down: ousted ex-president Joseph Estrada is now free, released on pardon from Malacanang.
On the one hand, I sort of feel that he should be pardoned because he’s 70 years old and he did spend six years incarcerated; but on the other hand I feel bewildered because WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!
It wasn’t at all like Erap was genuinely suffering – he was in his Tanay rest house, for crying out loud. He had access to everything. He could even leave the premises once in a while.
Actually it’s really the motives of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration that suck big time.
The Macapagal-Arroyo administration should not for even a moment believe that its act of granting pardon to eErap mitigates its own crimes against the Filipino people, or that the granting of pardon will signal reconciliation between itself and the opposition. If Pres. Arroyo and her spindoctors think that granting Erap pardon gives a patina of compassion to the presidency, they’re seriously mistaken. Nothing has changed with how Macapagal-Arroyo presidency is perceived by the Filipino people – an illegitimate, corrupt and human rights-violating regime. Granting Estrada pardon does not win for Macapagal-Arroyo more supporters, but it does ensure that more Filipinos will be fed up and disgusted with her government’s hypocrisy.
Malacananang is mistaken if it thinks that with Estrada pardoned, there will be national reconciliation. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The scandals and controversies over the corrupt acts and practices of the Arroyo administration have not been resolved and for many, pardoning Estrada also constitutes an act of betrayal of the rule of law on the part of the executive. Yet again the timing of the act of granting pardon also throws suspicion on the Arroyo presidency and its motives. No one for a minute believes that the pardon was an act of humanitarian kindness or justice, but a desperate act of self-preservation.
The most that we can hope for is for ex-president Estrada and his supporters and allies to not rub more salt into the wound by surrendering its opposition to the corruption of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and colluding with it in its acts of betrayal against the Filipino people and the nation. There is no need for ex-president Estrada to show gratitude to Macapagal-Arroyo because there is no doubt that the pardon was aimed to benefit Arroyo as much as it did Estrada. The ex-president is urged not to unite with Macapagal-Arroyo and instead continue his leadership of the opposition and its campaign to expose the corruption of the presidency.
Call me naïve, but I can’t help but hope that Estrada should use his regained freedom making up for the crimes his own administration perpetrated against the Filipino people. Erap should use his influence in support of efforts to genuinely expose and oppose the corruption of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. If Estrada does differently and instead joins the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, he will only be compounding the crimes for which he was ousted from power and arrested for six years.
The challenge that now lies for Estrada is to show remorse for the crimes perpetrated by his own government and to genuinely atone for them by joining efforts to fight the corruption of the incumbent regime. This is the least that he can do to assuage the outrage and indignation generated by pardon he was granted.
Under no circumstances should Estrada show gratitude with Macapagal-Arroyo or meet its overtures for reconciliation. The pardon was not act of humanity, compassion or justice, but a self-serving move of Malacanang. It’s now time for the ex-president to show the Filipino people that he has indeed learned his lesson and that he will now initiate measures that will genuinely prove this, including opposing the corruption and human rights violations of the Macapagal-Arroyo government.
Hindi talaga ako matunawan ngayong araw. This country is such a mess.
In the meantime, in other parts of the world there are people obsessed with staplers. They collect different kinds of staplers -various makes and models; the kinds that use staples, the ones that don’t; the ones made of plastic, some made of metal, and others of both. They even have site called VirtualStapler.com and I found it interesting: I’ve always liked office supplies, and could spend hours in National Bookstore checking out the various pens and rulers and tape dispensers and hi-lighter markers.
My own sister is worse — she hordes supplies – she has at least three mechanical pencil sharpeners, at least three dozen colored pencils, reams of sticky notepads in various sizes and colors, notebooks and gluesticks (glitter, plain and neon). I think she talks to them on her off days and asks them how they’re doing. I think they answer back because she’s often cheerful afterwards.
The first thing I do right after I turn on my laptop is to check my email accounts. It’s a habit. I get email from friends, email about work, spam, announcements about cool events I will never attend, news reports that make me feel ill, etc etc. I am addicted to the efficiency of email, how it’s almost unnecessary to use paper, how swiftly I can communicate with other people. I can’t imagine a world without email, without the internet (though mostly I use it to amuse myself).
Still, though, there are days when I miss getting actual, physical mail. I miss hearing the mailman yell ‘sulat!’ and I would rush down the stairs and to the door, eager to get my letter. Back in highschool I had penfriends from Germany, Africa and the former Soviet Union, and I could count on getting at least one letter from each every month. When Kim was in Mindanao I wrote him one letter a week and pretended that there was no such thing as email (although we did email as well). In the few times that I left the country I sent postcards home.
I also used to collect notepaper (none of the cheesy flowery or scented ones! I bought Japanese prints – paper used for origami; or Korean stationary printed with stories in short paragraphs of stilted but charming English) and envelopes and made sure that my fountain pen always had ink. I enjoyed the process of writing and signing the letters, putting them in the envelopes and going to the post office in Lawton to mail them. I didn’t mind licking stamps either.
I think it was this habit of writing letters that made me enjoy the office supplies section.
Now I receive no real mail, save for unpaid insurance bills, the electricity bill, or flyers from some company selling lechon de leche.