Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada on Sunday returned to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center – this time not as an embattled former president – but rather to visit his successor, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Arroyo, who herself is under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City for a plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of P366-million Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) intelligence funds during her incumbency, pardoned Estrada in 2007.
After being ousted in a popular revolution in 2001, Erap was tried and convicted on charges of corruption in 2007. Arroyo, who was Estrada’s vice-president, pardoned him barely two months after the conviction.
Estrada’s visit marked the first time the former president returned to VMMC, where he spent two years in detention. Estrada himself arranged the visit with the Philippine National Police.
Erap arrived at around 2:55 p.m., and was received by Rep. Arroyo, former First Gentleman Atty. Mike Arroyo, Arroyo’s spokesperson Atty Raul Lambino, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and others.
According to a tweet by Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Atty. Mike Arroyo’s spokesperson, the group ate together for merienda.
Meanwhile, former first gentleman Atty. Mike Arroyo released a statement thanking Estrada for his visit.
“The Arroyo Family is truly grateful for the concern shown by President Joseph Ejercito Estrada regarding the health and well-being of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as manifested by his taking extra effort to visit her at her hospital suite during this hectic holiday season,” he said, through his spokesperson Atty Ferdinand Topacio.
Arroyo also referenced Estrada’s full pardon by his wife, noting the respect the two former chief executives shared.
“When Pres. Estrada was similarly situated during the Arroyo Administration, he was always accorded by the Palace all the courtesies befitting him as a former Chief Executive who has served the country in the highest capacity, and, during his trial, as a person who was presumed innocent under the Constitution,” he said.
The statement also called on the present Aquino administration to show similar compassion.
“Pres. Erap is truly a man with a big heart and of tender, Christian mercies, an example which the present administration would do well to follow,” he said. — KDM/JDS, GMA News