There is no question to the right of President Arroyo to grant pardon (Article VII, Section 19, The 1987 Philippine Constitution) to convicted former president Estrada. President Arroyo knows that granting pardon to Estrada will create clamor among Filipinos as there will surely support and condemn such decision.
Arroyo is famous of making bold political decisions, first when she declared not to run as president in 2004 but eventually run and won; second when she ask “sorry” for Hello Garci scandal interpreted by many as admission of massive fraud in 2004 elections; and recently, her unpopular decision to grant pardon to Estrada interpreted as her way to divert people’s attention on the recent controversies that continue to rock her administration, as patch to her ailing political position, and as her way of getting back the sympathy of the masses.
Estrada’s pardon is just another dose of political packaging of Arroyo, more than just political patch but directed towards another political maneuver. When she publicly declared that she will not run on the 2004 presidential election, she made a political maneuver. She did it to pacify the issues and suspicion that she might be using her position in positioning herself as the best person to lead the country. By declaring that she will not run, she played safe. How she maneuver again when she declared her candidacy was just a matter of well-engineered public relations (PR) packaging.
The famous “I’m sorry” line saved her. Although she never gained back her credibility as leader as she always under public scrutiny and suspicion that she cheat in whatever undertaking she do. It was not just because of “I’m sorry” though. Her political maneuver was focused on the massive projects and lean funds evenly distributed to local executives. Arroyo then, has local executives remain loyal to her.
When Arroyo granted the pardon to Estrada, she never expect all Filipinos to be happy with it. She never need that her decision must be popular among the people. She only need that important political elements that will ensure safety for her political position. She may lose some supporters but she gain influence of major political block. Isn’t it too personal?
I am not convinced that Arroyo granted pardon to Estrada to heal the political wounds of this nation. I am not convinced that the pardon is a good step towards national unity and reconciliation because the pardon is wrapped with personal interest of Arroyo and Estrada.
Estrada shamelessly takes his pride for his own sake. Arroyo gambles to protect her own political interest. Are we not deceived by these two great politicians?
Poor Filipinos suffer these political maneuver.