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Cablegate: President Arroyo Pardons Former President Estrada

VZCZCXRO9646
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3520/01 2982247
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 252247Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8717
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003520

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KCOR PINR RP
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT ARROYO PARDONS FORMER PRESIDENT ESTRADA

REF: A. MANILA 3086
B. MANILA 2965

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a widely anticipated move, President
Arroyo late on October 25 pardoned former President Joseph
Estrada for his unprecedented conviction and sentence of life
imprisonment on graft and corruption charges. President
Arroyo cited the government,s policy of clemency for elderly
prisoners and the former president,s nearly seven years in
detention as factors in the pardon. Estrada's full civil and
political rights are restored under the decree of executive
clemency, but only in return for a pledge never to seek
public office again. The former president is allowed to
retain assets he held before he became president, but the
bank accounts and property he amassed illegally during his
two-year tenure will be forfeited to the government, as
decreed by the graft court that found him guilty. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In what Administration officials called a
&reconciliatory8 action, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
on October 25 granted a pardon to former President Joseph
Estrada. Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye made the announcement
in an evening press conference on national television (full
text of decree in paragraph 6). The pardon comes six weeks
after a Philippine anti-graft court found Estrada guilty of
plunder and sentenced him to up to 40 years in prison )
essentially a life sentence. Estrada was under house arrest
pending appeal.

3. (SBU) According to Administration officials, President
Arroyo,s decision followed the Department of Justice,s
recommendation for pardon. Estrada recently dropped a motion
for reconsideration on his verdict and announced he would
seek a &full, free, and unconditional8 pardon. Dropping
the appeal made the court's decision final and paved the way
for a presidential pardon.

4. (SBU) Arroyo,s pardon is not completely unconditional.
While Estrada,s full civil and political rights are
restored, the decree notes that Estrada &publicly committed
to no longer seek any elective position or office.8 In
addition, while Estrada will be allowed to retain assets he
held before he became president, assets acquired illegally
during his two-year tenure will be forfeited to the
government, as decreed by the Sandiganbayan graft court that
found him guilty.

5. (U) Text of Presidential pardon follows:

Malacanan Palace

By the President of the Philippines
PARDON

WHEREAS this administration has a policy of releasing inmates
who have reached the age of seventy (70),

WHEREAS, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has been under detention for
six and a half years,

WHEREAS, Joseph Ejercito Estrada has publicly committed to no
longer seek any elective position or office,

IN VIEW HEREOF and pursuant to the authority conferred upon
me by the Constitution, I hereby grant executive clemency to
JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, convicted by the Sandiganbayan of
Plunder and imposed a penalty of Reclusion Perpetua. He is
hereby restored to his civil and political rights.

The forfeitures imposed by the Sandiganbayan remain in force
and in full, including all writs and processes issued by the
Sandiganbayan in pursuance hereof, except for the bank
account(s) he owned before his tenure as President.

Upon acceptance of this pardon by JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA,
this pardon shall take effect.

Given under my hand at the City of Manila, this 25th Day of
October, in the year of Our Lord, two thousand and seven.

(Signed: Gloria M. Arroyo)


Visit Embassy Manila,s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

MANILA 00003520 002 OF 002

You can also access this site through the State Department,s
Classified SIPRNET website: http://www.state.sgov.gov
KENNEY

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