THE Manila Times story predicting that the Supreme Court (SC) will dismiss a disqualification case against Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada was right on target.
Voting 11-3, with one justice inhibiting, the SC en banc on Wednesday junked a petition seeking to reverse a Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling that Estrada was qualified to run for mayor in the 2013 elections.
The High Court, through Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, dismissed the consolidated petitions filed by former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and his lawyer Alicia Risos-Vidal.
Estrada won in the mayoral race in 2013 with 349,770 votes, against Lim’s 307,291 votes.
De Castro is the same justice who convicted Estrada for the crime of plunder De Castro is the same justice who convicted Estrada for the crime of plunder at the Sandiganbayan on September 12, 2007.
Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza took no part in the case because he represented the Comelec during his stint as Solicitor General.
Voting with de Castro were Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Arturo Brion, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
Mendoza and Brion have issued separate concurring opinions.
The three SC justices who voted to oust Estrada were Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
Estrada was overjoyed upon learning of the SC decision.
“Masayang-masaya ako at gusto kong magpasalamat…Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga Supreme Court justices,” [I’m so happy and I want to thank the Supreme Court justices.],” he told reporters.
The former President said he immediately relayed the good news to family members.
Although he earlier announced that he will no longer run for mayor in 2016, Estrada said he may seek reelection if Vice Mayor Isko Moreno runs for higher office.
“I have palabra de honor (word of honor). I promised my vice mayor I won’t run. It all depends on Vice Mayor Isko Moreno. If he changes his mind, then I will run for reelection,” he explained.
“If the people will ask for it, then we can do nothing,” Estrada said.
According to him, Moreno is well equipped to succeed him as Manila mayor.
But the vice mayor had said he will not run against Estrada if the latter decides to seek another term. Moreno said he may run for senator or congressman instead.
When asked if he has a message to former mayor Alfredo Lim, Estrada said: “God bless him and may he be empowered in his retirement.”
Estrada’s children celebrated with their father, saying the SC decision is a victory not only for the Manila mayor but for the electorate of the city.
Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who is detained for plunder, expressed hope that the decision of the High Court will finally put all questions and uncertainties over the pardon given to his father and his eligibility to run for public office to rest.
“Now that this issue has been settled, let us focus on helping the local government of Manila to succeed in the next 18 months in restoring the glory and grandeur of our beloved capital city which were lost due to years of mismanagement and negligence,” the senator said.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito also praised the SC for its decision.
“They (SC justices) respected the mandate that was given by the people to Mayor Estrada,” Ejercito said.
With Jaime R. Pilapil And Jefferson Antiporda