Joseph Estrada, "Erap" to his movie fans, will go free this Friday. He was pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who got the post after Estrada politically drowned in a sea of corruption scandals and was driven from office in 2001.
The former president, 70, has been under house arrest for the past six and a half years. He was convicted of corruption charges and was sentenced by an anti-graft court to a maximum of 40 years in prison for taking bribes and kickbacks during his presidency.
“The motive for granting the pardon is utterly self-serving of Mrs. Arroyo,” said Renato Reyes, secretary general of the leftist group Bayan, in a report. Arroyo is currently facing a scandal of her own in a case involving "$70 million in kickbacks from a multimillion-dollar broadband contract between the government and the Chinese company ZTE."
A government spokesperson said that the executive clemency, which is kicking up a dust storm of protest among anti-graft and corruption groups in the Philippines, is in line with the government’s policy to release inmates who are 70 or older.