Manila RTC throws out 'speculative' case, says Erap may run for mayor
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines – Saying it is “100 percent clear there is no disqualification and 100 percent Erap can be voted upon,” the lawyer of former President Joseph Estrada said Wednesday nothing can stop now his quest to be mayor of the capital city.

Former Solicitor General Frank Chavez declared this after receiving news that the Regional Trial Court of Manila Branch 20 had dismissed the disqualification case in an Order dated February 19, 2013, filed against Estrada by a certain Romeo de Leon and Mariel Limueco. 

In dismissing the case, Presiding Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali said it has no basis and that the persons who filed the case have no legal standing. 

The Order of Dismissal stated that the preamble of the pardon being questioned is not an essential part of the pardon given him by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after he served six years in detention for plunder, for which a special court convicted him. What is controlling, said the court decision, is the dispositive portion of the pardon, which absolutely restores the civil and political rights of Estrada.

Estrada, who served just a little over two years of his term, has claimed the plunder case was sheer political persecution by elitists who were behind the people power revolt that led to his unceremonious ouster in January 2001.

The Manila RTC also stressed that it is undisputed that Estrada was qualified to run in the presidential elections of 2010.

Estrada, a popular action star who first entered politics as mayor of his hometown in San Juan, Rizal (now a city) where he served 17 years, rose to become senator, then vice president, then president with a historic margin in 1998.

Regarding the legal standing of the petitioners, the Order said the Court could not grasp how Estrada's pardon, absolute or conditional, could adversely affect the petitioners' right of suffrage or how the pardon would render their votes for respondent meaningless. The Order calls the reasons of the Petitioners "too vague, highly speculative and uncertain".

"With this decision, there should be no more questions as to whether or not former President Estrada can run for mayor in Manila," Chavez said. "There is no legal barrier to his running for mayor. He is absolutely qualified to run."