Erap-Lim Showdown Gets Legal

Former President Joseph Estrada has accused Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim of being behind the disqualification case filed against him before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

In an interview on Monday at the Comelec office, Estrada said he has no doubt that Lim is the mastermind of the questioning of his qualification to run for Manila mayor by Atty. Alicia Vidal since it supposedly violates the conditions of his pardon in October 2007.

"Of course. One of the lawyers is Justice Palattao. Everybody knows he's the lawyer of Lim," he said before the hearing of the case by the Comelec Second Division

Vidal, who once served as Lim's lawyer, in a separate interview, denied Estrada's claim.

"He has nothing to do with this. I am filing this as a registered voter of Manila," she said.

Earlier this month, Vidal filed a disqualification case against Estrada citing the conditionality of the pardon granted to him by former president Gloria Arroyo as the main ground.

It can be recalled that Estrada's age, the fact that he had been in custody for over six years, and his commitment not to seek public office were among the factors considered by Arroyo in issuing the pardon.

"The grant of pardon is conditional. And one of the conditions is that he will not seek public office," said retired Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Rodolfo Palattao, legal counsel of Vidal.

But Estrada and his lawyer, Frank Chavez, said the determining factor of his qualification to run lies is the dispositive portion of the document.

"It (conditions) appears on the 'whereas clause' but it is not part of the pardon. It imposes no obligation on him. So the very same pardon document restored his civil and political rights," said Chavez.

"We are talking here of the dispositive portion, which is restoring all my civil and political rights. That means I can vote and be voted upon," said Estrada.

Chavez added that the same issue had already been resolved by the Comelec itself when Estrada ran for president in 2010.

"I was allowed to run for the presidency, how come that I cannot run for mayor... the more so (I am qualified)," said Estrada.

Lim and Estrada are set to face-off in the 2013 mayoral race in Manila.