Former Philippines president Estrada drops appeal, seeks pardon


Manila : Former Philippine president Joseph Estrada Monday dropped his appeal of his conviction for large-scale corruption and sought an unconditional pardon from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, an official said.

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Estrada’s attorneys withdrew their motion for reconsideration that sought a reversal of his conviction and life sentence handed down Sep 12 by the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court.

The former president’s defence team then sent a letter to Arroyo, seeking “full, free and unconditional pardon,” according to acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera.

“The time has come to end President Estrada’s fight for justice and vindication before the courts,” the letter said. “Our consensus is that there is a very slim chance that the Sandiganbayan will reconsider its original guilty verdict.”

Estrada’s defence team said the move aimed at avoiding public outrage should the former president lose his appeal and the court orders his transfer to the prison from his 15-hectare vacation villa outside Manila, where he is detained.

“His transfer to the national penitentiary may generate bad feelings on the part of many of our countrymen which may boil over again,” they said. “A period of prolonged fault-finding and recrimination would be disastrous for the nation.”

“In the highest national interest, to which President Estrada is always willing to subordinate his own, we appeal Your Excellency to grant him full, free and unconditional pardon,” the defence team added in the letter to Arroyo.

Estrada, a former action-movie star, was ousted by a military-backed mass uprising in January 2001 due to allegations of massive corruption. He has denied the charges against him, and had hoped that his six-year trial would vindicate his name.