MANILA, Philippines--Just like how former President Joseph Estrada may not have the moral authority to condemn rival candidate Manuel Villar Jr. for influencing the stock exchange for his personal gain--Estrada did that, too, in 1999--there's another thing over which he may not have the right to criticize Villar: using his mother for political ends.
In the 6 years that he was detained for alleged plunder, Estrada often officially cited the need to be with his ailing mother, Doña Mary Marcelo-Ejercito, to request for temporary freedom, usually a day.
When Estrada was convicted, he decided to ask for presidential pardon, again citing how he would want to be beside his aging mother whose health condition had worsened. Mrs. Ejercito passed away on Jan. 13, 2009, from stomach aneuryms and heart seizure.
Abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak sources who advised President Arroyo on the pros and cons of pardoning Estrada said that, in fact, the pardon was given earlier than planned in consideration of the Doña Mary factor. "Can you imagine what would have happened if the old lady died and we haven't freed him," a Cabinet member told us in 2007.
On Monday, Villar's mother, Curita “Nanay Curing” Bamba-Villar, faced the media to defend her son against allegations that he is corrupt. (Read: Villar's mom: Stop picking on my son)
Estrada criticized Villar and branded the move as an “act of desperation.”
Cited in pardon request
In an interview with Karen Davila on ABS-CBN News Channel's show “Headstart,” Estrada said that he purposely shielded his mother from all negative reports about him during his impeachment trial in 2000.
"It happened to me also during the impeachment. In fact, ang ginawa ko at ng mga kapatid ko, huwag pakita sa mama ko yung tv. Kakaunti na lang panahon niya? Bakit ko sasaktan kalooban ng nanay ko? Bakit bibigyan ng sama ng loob (In fact, what my siblings and I did was to not show my mother the television. She only had a little time left, why would I give her anything to worry about?)" he said. (Read: Villar 'desperate' for using own mom)
He added: “In my opinion, it's a desperate move, parang desperado. Bakit pati magulang mo isasama mo? Dadagdagan mo pa ng sama ng loob yung magulang mo eh ang tanda na. Kasama na sa departure area. (In my opinion, it's a desperate move. Why would you include your parents in the situation? You are adding to your parent's worries, they are old already. They will leave soon).”
Estrada is not telling the whole about him and his mother. In Estrada's request for presidential pardon, his counsel Jose Flaminiano cited Doña Mary's worsening condition as one of the reasons his client was seeking executive clemency.
Estrada was granted presidential pardon on Oct. 25, 2007.
Since 2001, when the plunder and perjury charges against the former President were still on-going, Estrada was transferred to 5 different locations for his house arrest: Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal; Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna; Camp Crame in Quezon City and Veterans Memorial Medical Center also in Quezon City. (Read: Guilty! But Special Concessions For Accussed Show Flawed System)
In July 2004, the court allowed Estrada to stay at his villa in Tanay, Rizal—not very far from Camp Capinpin.
While under house arrest, he was allowed a number of times by the anti-graft court to spend time with Doña Mary—this is outside from being allowed to go on a 3-month leave to the United States in December 2003 to undergo knee surgery. Estrada opted to stay because he wanted to support the presidential campaign of his long-time friend Fernando Poe Jr.
On Oct. 23, 2003, the Sandiganbayan granted Estrada temporary respite from imprisonment. It was because Estrada asked if he could visit his then-93-year-old ailing mother in her North Greenhills home in San Juan.
He went out to visit Doña Mary on Oct. 26, 2003. She was suffering “abdominal aneuryms,” according to Dr. Lorenzo Hocson, the Estrada family doctor.
In December of the same year, Estrada told the Philippine Star that he was begging with the Sandiganbayan justices to allow him to be with his mother. He claimed that his mother was looking for him and that she could go anytime soon.
He spent Christmas holidays in his Greenhills home in 2005 and 2006 with his family.
He was also present in 4 of his mother's birthdays (2004-2007) in May.
On Sept. 9, 2007, he was allowed to once again visit his ailing mother. This was just a few days before the Sandiganbayan ruled that Estrada was guilty of plunder (Sept. 12, 2007).
In late September 2007, Estrada was also allowed a 10-hour visit at the San Juan Medical Center. Doña Mary had been confined there since August 2007. This was the first time, after being convicted of plunder, Estrada was allowed to visit his mother.
The Manila Bulletin reported that Doña Mary, who was then critically-ill, stood in silence while tears rolled down her face. Estrada approached her mother and whispered, “Mama, mama.” (Read: Erap visits Doña Mary in San Juan Hospital) (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)