We will survive Estrada acquittal, says Palace

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Last updated 04:40am (Mla time) 07/05/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday said it will survive an acquittal of jailed President Joseph Estrada from the plunder charges that were the basis for the Edsa People Power II event that propelled President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to power six years ago.


“This administration will survive any condition. Definitely, no question about that,” said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita when asked on what could be an adverse reaction from Estrada’s supporters if the Sandiganbayan finds their leader innocent of the charges that led to his ouster in 2001 and his stay in jail over the last six years.


“We (the Arroyo administration) are only going by our laws. That is important. It’s one thing to accuse, it’s another to prove the accusation and we have the courts to do that,” said Ermita.


But Ermita noted that a guilty verdict on Estrada could very well incite an equally strong reaction from his followers which was why the Palace had been preparing contingency plans for any scenario.


“We will have to see first the reaction of the public whether the verdict is guilty or not guilty and act accordingly. She is the president of the entire Filipino people. She should make sure that the situation on the ground is peaceful,” said Ermita.


Ermita, however, would not say what scenario Malacañang felt would have more serious reaction.


He was adamant that Malacañang has kept its hands off the case throughout the trial period and that it would not dare touch the Sandiganbayan’s final decision.


“The Sandiganbayan is a separate body. The accused is a former president and therefore he should be given due respect. Let’s just follow what the law says as far as such a case is concerned,” said Ermita.


When asked if he considered the event a possible threat to national security, Ermita said: “He’s a very important personality. I would like to think that whoever was the proponent or is the proponent of that one-page ad is precisely in their own group.”


Ermita was reacting to a one-page ad in newspapers Wednesday that appealed for sobriety in the face of the Sandiganbayan’s impending decision on the Estrada case.


“Some sectors are saying this could be a national threat but if you are following the case of the former president you will see how transparent the litigation of the case has been and they will see when the verdict comes out if it follows the rule of law or not. It’s very transparent and maybe that would mitigate against it being a serious threat against national security,” said Ermita.


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