MANILA Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada is reportedly one vote shy of the needed number of votes to win his disqualification case at the Supreme Court (SC).
Unimpeachable sources at the High Court told The Manila Times on Monday that at least six associate justices do not want Estrada disqualified.
The SC en banc is set to vote on Wednesday (January 21) on whether to disqualify or retain Estrada as Manila mayor.
Alicia Risos-Vidal, the lawyer of former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, who also intervened in the case, filed the disqualification case against the former president.
Estrada needs at least seven votes to win since only 14 of the 15 justices will decide on the case. Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza earlier decided to inhibit himself.
Meanwhile, two associate justices have already circulated their dissenting opinions already circulated their dissenting opinions against the draft decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, who wanted to disqualify Estrada.
Leonen, who was designated to study whether Estrada should be ousted, has opined that the Manila mayor should be disqualified because of his conviction for the crime of plunder.
He said the presidential pardon given to Estrada by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was conditional, not absolute.
Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza has submitted to the SC en banc his draft opinion, which dissents from the Leonen draft, the High Court sources said.
Associate Justice Arturo Brion has also circulated his dissenting opinion against the Leonen draft, the sources added.
The Times has learned that Mendoza’s dissenting opinion states that Estrada should not be disqualified because the pardon bestowed by Arroyo was an “absolute pardon” based on the executive clemency’s wordings.
He said Estrada’s “civil and political rights” have been fully restored.
On the other hand, The Times sources said Brion’s dissent dwells on the mandate of the people principle: The voice of the people must prevail after the majority of the electorate in the City of Manila elected Estrada.
According to the sources, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno may agree with Leonen. Sereno and Leonen were known allies during their College of Law days at the University of the Philippines.
Under the rules, once the SC voting is tied at 7-7, a re-voting shall be made. If the votes are still tied on the second voting, the petition against Estrada shall be dismissed.