Monday, September 17, 2007

Where were you when Erap’s verdict was handed down?

Cebu, Philippines (12 September)—Today seems to be one of the most unforgettable days in our political lives, wrote a local columnist here in Cebu.

It looks like the nation’s fate hangs on the former President Joseph Estrada’s “HATOL” from the time he ran as president in 2001 to the time of his impeachment and now the verdict of guilty or not guilty of his plunder case.

Two of the local papers in Cebu had editorials on the ERAP verdict. The SUN STAR DAILY has “ERAP conviction or acquittal must rest solely on evidence” and The FREEMAN reads, “Country first before Estrada:”

“What is interesting though is that every time that a historical or a political event unfolds in the country, it seems a lot of ado comes from the national capital. The Freeman editorial hits the nail when it said …”What is ironic is that instead of being happy this sordid episode in our lives is about to come to an end, most people are instead seized by feelings of great trepidation.”

“That is because most of the 87 million Filipinos simply have no idea what is going to happen next. The country is once again back in a situation where the majority is being held hostage by a few. Guilty or not, the fate of the nation will once again be determined by what happens in Metro Manila.”

“Metro Manila is not the nation….true, the seat of power may be in Metro Manila. But it does not follow the fate of the nation has to be decided there every time. In case people have forgotten, it was Cebu that completed EDSA-1 in 1986. In other words, the rest of the Philippines must start asserting itself. It must not allow the fate of the nation to be dictated in the streets of Metro Manila alone.”

As the verdict was read this morning, acquittal of the perjury case and guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the plunder case, Cebu was quiet but not angry. There were no protest groups on the streets, business went as usual.

Teodor Locson, VP for external affairs of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI) said, “The local business community will not be affected by the promulgation. It will be business as usual in Cebu.”

In Bohol, two (2) local radio stations aired the Sandigan Bayan proceedings. Mixed reactions were gathered from the listening public including the media but majority was satisfied with the verdict of guilty in the plunder case.

According to the Bohol PNP director, there were no activities monitored that publicly showed sympathy and support to the former president.

In Negros Oriental, Provincial Board Member Melimore Saycon said, “we have to give it to the Sandigan Bayan that the decisions they have arrived at have been properly deliberated. Everybody is equal in the face of law. Let us respect and accept whatever the verdict on his case. Let us stay calm and follow the rule of law.”

Finally, Presidential spokesperson, Secretary Ignacio Bunye said, “We bow to the decision of the Sandigan Bayan. We hope and pray that the rule of law will prevail. Meantime, we have a country to run, an economy to grow and a peace to win. We hope that this sad episode in our history will not permanently distract us from our goals.”

As Sun Star columnist Bobby Nalzaro declared, “We don’t want to experience another political turmoil. Enough is enough!”

Indeed! (PIA-Cebu/MBCN)

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