Erap (3):  The People’s Verdict

Qualified to run for president by both the Commission on Elections and the Supreme Court, former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada proceeded to “appeal his case” before the electorate during the recent general elections.

The People’s Verdict was made official by Congress on June 16:  Erap’s bid for the presidency was “denied” by almost 42% of the electorate (15.2M votes) in favor of President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.  The landslide win by Noynoy swept away the nagging questions of “EDSA-Dos” which haunted the Arroyo administration like a ghost.

Erap however remains a significant political force to reckon with, garnering 9.5M votes (25% or 1/4 of the total votes cast for president) and placing 2nd in a field of 9 candidates.  His PMP (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino) party captured the vice presidency, 2 of 12 contested senate seats and a host of congressional seats and local elective positions.  He can make governance a more tricky business for Noynoy if he ever chooses to be highly critical of the Aquino administration.

This reminds us of the incessant, destabilizing mass protests and military adventures that marked and disrupted the Arroyo administration throughout the duration of the lengthy court proceedings of the plunder case against Erap.  Pres. Arroyo spent a great deal of time and effort defending her presidency at the slightest provocation by the Erap supporters and their allied forces — too much wasted time and effort (and public resources) that could have otherwise been put to better use.  But that is not to say I apologize for the shortcomings and excesses of the Arroyo administration.

A fractious nation cannot move forward at a rapid pace.  Erap is presented with the noble choice of accepting the People’s Verdict and transcending divisive partisan politics by calling on his supporters to unite and rally behind Noynoy.

For his part, Noynoy should reach out and offer his hand of friendship to Erap and his supporters.  He should also rise above the rhetoric and animosities of the last election and start to talk and act as president of ALL Filipinos.

Let us give Noynoy and his presidency a chance and the time to succeed. At the same time, we must remain vigilant and assertive of our rights as we follow the unfolding of his administration.  Should he fail to become a good president, count me in among the front row of street protesters.  For now I shall do my duty as a responsible citizen and march to the drum beat of the day: unity in purpose and goal behind the Aquino banner.

Author:  Rene “RC” Catacutan
Published 29 June 2010