Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada does not expect the Supreme Court (SC) to order his disqualification, despite a draft of the court decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
In the draft, a copy of which was obtained by The Manila Times, Leonen said he believed Alfredo Lim should be installed as the winner of the 2013 mayoral election in Manila.
The draft had been submitted to the SC en banc, but justices asked for more time to study it.
Estrada “does not expect the Supreme Court to pass judgment countering the same issues,” his public information officer, Diego Cagahastian, told The Times on Monday.
Cagahastian cited the ‘Vox Populi, Vox Dei’ adage, which means ‘The Voice of the People, the Voice of God.”
Estrada said Lim gave up his quest for reelection after he conceded defeat even before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had proclaimed the winner in Manila.
He refused to say who he suspects as behind the campaign to discredit him.
The former president cited several points why he should not be disqualified.
He said the depositive portion of an executive clemency issued by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had restored his civil and political rights
When he filed his certificate of candidacy in 2010, a Regional Trial Court, the Sandiganbayan and the Comelec en banc all ruled that he could seek elective position, Estrada notedd.
Even the Supreme Court had dismissed similar pleadings when he ran for President in 2010.
The disqualification case was filed by Alicia Risos-Vidal, a former lawyer of Lim, in her capacity as a taxpayer.
Leonen based his position on the theory that Arroyo’s pardon was conditional, not absolute.
The magistrate cited precedents such as the Monsanto vs. Factoran, and the provisions of Article 36 and 41 of the Revised Penal Code.
The former University of the Philippine College of Law dean said Lim should succeed Estrada, instead of the elected vice mayor, citing Section 44 of the Local Government Code as was in the case in the Aratea vs. Comelec and Antipolo.
Supreme Court justices have expressed reservations on Leonen’s draft ponencia.
A source in the court said if Estrada is disqualified because of his conviction for the crime of plunder, it will set a precedent that will bar him from running for President in 2016.
Estrada was allowed to run for President in 2010 after the Supreme Court en banc failed to rule on whether a former leader can run for reelection as provided by the 1987 Constitution.
Then-Chief Justice Renato Corona, ponente of the case, said the disqualification case against Estrada shall be “moot and academic” after Estrada lost to then-senator Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Before the SC went on its Christmas break, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes had pushed for a vote on the disqualification of Estrada based on the Leonen ponencia.
But some justices were reluctant to hold the vote and would rather wait for their colleagues to return from their leave.
The court will take up the Estrada case on January 20.
It was learned that an SC member will write a dissenting opinion on Leonen’s draft ponencia.