Trusting lucky little girl was my greatest mistake Erap

Jose Rodel Clapano - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Pardoned former President Joseph Estrada said yesterday that his greatest mistake was trusting then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Estrada, who was guest of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), said that he regretted treating Mrs. Arroyo very well when he assumed the presidency in 1998.

He said that immediately after taking over, he appointed Arroyo as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

During his stint as vice president, Estrada was only designated by then President Fidel Ramos as chairman of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC).

“My darkest moment is I became too confident. I did not know that there are already those who are conspiring to oust me, including my vice president. I was confident and trusted her, I gave the DWSD portfolio to her,” Estrada said.

He also branded Mrs. Arroyo a “lucky little girl” who maintains her hold on the military and police generals to keep her in power.

“She is really a lucky little girl because of the fact that she can still hold some generals,” Estrada added.

“I just hope that she will resign to prevent violence and restiveness of the people. I can’t blame her because once she resigns, she will be dead.”

Estrada said another big mistake was when he did not block Congress from bringing the impeachment proceedings against him before the Senate.

“My biggest mistake, I don’t know if that is a mistake, is I allowed Congress to bring the impeachment proceedings to the Senate. I did not block it because I am determined to defend myself. But I was not given my day in the impeachment court. The prosecution was given the chance to present their evidence and their witnesses. Unfortunately, they walked out when it was already my turn to present mine. Any man accused must be given their day in court, but that did not happen to me. My ouster was unconstitutional from the beginning,” Estrada said.

On the other hand, Estrada said his best moment “was when I addressed the problems on kidnappings and carjackings, which made the name of then Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Panfilo Lacson flourish, and when I was able to overrun the 46 camps of the MILF. That is one of my biggest accomplishments when people started to feel safe in their homes,” Estrada said.

Observe transparency

Estrada also called yesterday on Mrs. Arroyo to observe transparency and reveal all transactions her administration has entered into with the Chinese government.

“In these trying times, I urge our people to be more vigilant in calling on this government and its officials to come clean, be transparent and provide our people with an inventory or listing of the transactions and agreements it has entered into with China,” he said.

Estrada said that all the transactions entered into by the Arroyo administration with China have been kept secret to cover up the greed of some officials of the Arroyo government.

Estrada claimed that the Arroyo administration is more corrupt than his administration because his had been transparent in all its transactions.

“During my presidency, I had made it a point to ensure transparency in government operations. Our economic team was also composed of leaders of the private sector and professionals who are known not just for their competence, but for their honesty and integrity.”

Estrada said that because of the high-level graft and corruption in the Arroyo administration, poverty remained the No. 1 problem in the country.

Meanwhile, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay yesterday lashed out at local government units (LGUs) for allegedly using government money to pay for print advertisements that declare support for the Arroyo administration.

He raised the possibility that the series of political advertisements form part of a public relations offensive funded by political operators on behalf of the government.

Newsbreak earlier reported on the ABS-CBN News website that The Philippine STAR earned P2.8 million from pro-Arroyo ads while the Manila Bulletin got P1.27 million.

The cost of pro-Arroyo ads printed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer amounted to P1.041 million while anti-Arroyo ads cost P749,430.

Newsbreak claimed it did not find any anti-Arroyo ads in the STAR and Bulletin. The website later clarified that  STAR carried anti-Arroyo ads such as the statements of the Management of the Philippines and the Makati Business Club. – With Michael Punongbayan, AP

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