Thursday, October 25, 2007


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.
[photo: CNN]

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