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Oreta, Tatad in anguish

Senators Tessie Aquino-Oreta and Francisco Tatad expressed anguish yesterday over their becoming hate-figures of society following their controversial roles in the impeachment trial of ousted President Joseph Estrada.

Oreta’s doing a jig and shouting back at hecklers after the Senate vote rejecting the opening of the second envelope on the Jose Velarde account was repeatedly shown on numerous television channels, fueling the public passion against her.

Tatad’s role in immediately calling for a Senate vote on the envelope, thereby preempting Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. from making a ruling, was also likened to his reading Proclamation 1081 that declared martial law in the country.

Oreta said she was hurt by what had been said and written about her after the Senate vote. She also said that media even incorrectly reported that she had already left for abroad when she was here all along.

Oreta said that it was a good thing all but one of her children were already grown up.

"They understood that I was just myself. But they were hurt when they heard Cory say that they were already ashamed of me. They said that Cory had no right to speak for them," she said, referring to former President Corazon Aquino, her sister-in-law.

She said that her 10-year-old son Enzo was the only one affected by all the taunting and she felt sorry for him.

Meanwhile, Tatad lamented that he and members of his family have been harassed for his "principled personal stand."

He said that they were the most hated in their neighborhood, and that he had received abusive and threatening text messages. He was asked how he would have voted had he known in advance that the vote could cause so much torment to his family and transfer the case to the streets.

"I believe I would probably have abstained, but never would I vote against my understanding of the constitutional principle involved. I could not have acted against my true conscience," he explained.

At the same time, he lamented that those who prevailed at EDSA had shown little or no appreciation for the fact that because of that "principled vote for which they hated us so much, Mrs. Arroyo is now president."

"While they might have been unhappy that we did not vote to please the crowd, they have no reason now to be unhappy with the final result. Their prayers for a new president had been answered," Tatad said.

He urged President Arroyo not to follow the "vindictive spirit that ruined the magnificent promise of our restored democracy in 1986." He expressed his best wishes for the Arroyo administration, while vowing to provide "responsible, constructive and dignified opposition" to her government. – Efren Danao

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