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Post  Admin on Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:03 pm

Cory apology to ERAP dismays EDSA players

Former President Corazon Aquino, a global people power icon who helped unseat a dictator as well as a corrupt but hugely popular leader, has drawn mild rebuke and outright scorn – mostly from political allies – for voicing contrition for her role in ousting Joseph Estrada from the presidency in 2001.

A belated clarification from Mrs. Aquino’s son Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, that the apology was meant as a joke, helped little to silence critics. Mrs. Aquino could not be reached for comment yesterday.
For Sen. Richard Gordon, Mrs. Aquino earned the moniker “Sorry Aquino” for her surprise apology.
“I am quite disappointed. I don’t agree with the fact that you have to say sorry to him. I really feel for Cory because she is sick right now, but I think she overstated the point,” Gordon said. Mrs. Aquino has colon cancer.
Gordon said Mrs. Aquino’s apology might sow confusion, especially among the young.
He said leaders should set an example by showing resolve and dignity, and by speaking up and saying “what is wrong or what is right even if it would hurt other people.”
“I have nothing against the former president (Aquino)” but that “when we are leaders, we must be called upon to teach our people.”
“Leaders teach. Leaders must form a face for our country, what we stand for,” Gordon said.
“We must be upright and we must be able and not be afraid to say in front of other people what we think of them if they had done wrong,” he said. “I do not want to confuse the public where we must stand. We must stand for the right thing.”
He stressed that while he could still be friends with Estrada, the senator said he would never apologize to the ousted president who was convicted of plunder in 2007 or six years after his ouster in a popular revolt. Then vice president Gloria Arroyo took over from Estrada.
“I have no qualms in saying that I didn’t agree with the way he (Estrada) was handling the government. Erap did some good things and I acknowledge that. He did many good things but he also did a lot of bad things,” Gordon said.
“Mr. Estrada has committed wrongs in our country and he has already been forgiven. I’m part of those who removed him and I have no regrets about that,” he added.
As for Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra, son of the late Speaker Ramon Mitra, Mrs. Aquino’s apology reflected a flawed attitude.
His father, a 1992 presidential candidate, was Mrs. Aquino’s ally in the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino. But it was former military chief Fidel Ramos who got anointed by then President Aquino in the 1992 elections. Ramos won the elections.
“Sana hindi tayo nagkaganito kung sumunod lang siya sa (LDP) convention (We could not have ended up like this had she followed what had been agreed upon in the LDP convention),” the senior House member said, referring to the party decision choosing Mitra as the standard-bearer.
Negros Occidental Rep. Iggy Arroyo said the apology was unnecessary. “Her apology is her own prerogative but she must realize that the Sandiganbayan already found him (Erap) guilty. Surveys also indicate that most Filipinos believe he was guilty.”
Rep. Joel Villanueva of the Citizens Battle Against Corruption said he couldn’t understand why Mrs. Aquino apologized. “I just honestly don’t understand where the apology came from, on whose behalf, and for whatever reason.”
“Maybe she’s just so disappointed with this administration, just like the overwhelming majority of our people,” he said. “Presidents serve the people. Their decisions are based on what will be good for the people and the country.”
Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) founding chairman Dante Jimenez slammed Mrs. Aquino for her apology to Estrada, saying she has “lost her nerve.”
“It’s very highly suspicious considering that she is now allying herself with a former president convicted beyond reasonable doubt (of plunder) by the Sandiganbayan,” he said in a statement.
“EDSA 2 actually is not Cory Aquino, EDSA 2 is against a corrupt president who tolerated jueteng and all those things,” he told The STAR.
“We should never be regretful of EDSA 2. I think the only problem now is the tolerance. If people will not learn from the lessons, it would be very difficult to reach that EDSA spirit, unless the people will rally and go for good governance and non-tolerance of all the bad things in government,” he stressed.
Jimenez said Mrs. Aquino “has lost the touch” and advised her to help look for the mastermind of the killing of her husband, former senator Benigno Aquino Jr.
“If she wants the truth, unahin natin ’yan (take care of that first),” he said.
“It is unfair and unjust for Cory to say sorry as if she represents all of us when we joined the EDSA 2 revolt against a corrupt president,” Jimenez said.

Softer on Cory

“Cory is entitled to her own opinion,” militant Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna said. Left-wing groups were also instrumental in the ouster of Estrada.
But independent Rep. Edno Joson of Nueva Ecija said “at least Cory was sincere” when she apologized, unlike President Arroyo whose apology at the height of the “Hello, Garci” controversy smacked of hypocrisy.
An Waray Rep. Florencio “Bem” Noel said he fully understood Mrs. Aquino. “I respect her opinion on that. Maybe that was her human reaction during that time. Maybe that was what she felt during that time.”
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz bewailed Mrs. Aquino’s apology to Estrada but said EDSA 2 would not have happened if people had an idea of how the Arroyo administration would turn out.
“If I knew that Mrs. Arroyo would be like this, there would not have been an EDSA 2,” Cruz said.
“Everybody or anyone who feels that they have offended a person can ask for forgiveness. That is standard. But in the case of EDSA 2, I don’t know how many thousands or millions of people were involved in that,” he said.
“If they feel that they made a mistake versus Erap, then they should apologize,” he said. “But not all feel that they have done anything wrong.”
When asked if he would apologize, he said, “No. I don’t think that I have made an error in judgment. But the human act or judgment is only good at the time it is made. You do not look back afterwards.”
Cruz, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said that while he disliked the womanizing, gambling and midnight Cabinet meetings of Estrada, “compared to President Arroyo, he is much better.”
The prelate is the founder of the anti-gambling civic group Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng.
He did not discount the possibility that some religious groups would follow in Aquino’s footsteps.
“That is possible – if they (religious) are truly convinced that they committed a mistake against Estrada,” he said. But he ruled out an apology from the CBCP despite the prominent role played by many prelates in Estrada’s ouster.
He said he could not recall anyway if the CBCP issued a statement supporting Estrada’s ouster. “But if the CBCP issued it and if it feels that it made an error in judgment, then it should apologize. But you cannot ask apology from other people, if they do not think that they have done anything wrong,” he pointed out.
“Personally, I feel that the mea culpa statements or a realization of the same were much too late, the event having occurred in early 2001 and we are soon entering 2009,” Speaker Prospero Nograles said in a text message to The STAR.
The Speaker was also at the book launching of former speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., where Ms. Aquino made the impromptu remarks, to the surprise of many.
“Many of those who participated in that event do not agree with Tita Cory. Perhaps it is best to respect each other’s opinion on that matter,” Nograles said.

‘Act of reconciliation’

It was an act of reconciliation that was no different from Mrs. Arroyo’s grant of pardon to Estrada, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said of Mrs. Aquino’s apology.
He pointed out that as far as reconciliation with Estrada is concerned, President Arroyo was a step ahead of Mrs. Aquino as she granted the request for pardon of Mr. Estrada last year.
“Let us not forget that President Arroyo herself early on had made the greatest, supreme reconciliatory move by exercising the presidential prerogative of pardon on former President Erap Estrada,” Dureza said at a briefing at Malacañang yesterday.
Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, who is considered as one of the political advisers of Mrs. Arroyo, said that any effort made towards unification by contending political groups should be seen as something good for the country.
“I think we should all make an effort to reconcile with one another even as we are approaching the period of elections. Unity rather than division should be the order of the day,” Puno said.
“I think that the gesture of former President Aquino shows that maybe the people are the ones that are going to decide this in the future and previous differences are not going to have a very large role in the politics of the future, and I hope that will be an all pervasive thing,” Puno said.
“All politics should be geared towards unification and development of the country,” he added.
Puno said Mrs. Aquino deserves congratulations for her gesture.

Not serious

Senator Aquino stressed that his mother was not serious about making the controversial apology.
“Since (former president) Estrada was not castigating JDV (de Venecia), my mother replied in the same token. I think the context was misinterpreted. The light and humorous atmosphere (of the occasion) was not taken into consideration,” Sen. Aquino said.
“Why would her reply be serious when (Estrada was being humorous?),” the senator said.

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