Erap returns to Veterans to visit Arroyo

by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Dec 22 2013 03:54 PM | Updated as of Dec 23 2013 10:46 AM

PNoy should follow Erap’s example – Arroyo lawyer

Erap: I believe in compassion

MANILA (UPDATED) -- Former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada went back to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) on Sunday to visit the person who indirectly had a hand in bringing him there years ago.

As promised, Estrada visited successor and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is currently under hospital arrest for her alleged role in misusing Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) fund.

He arrived there at around 2:55 p.m. Sunday.

“I believe in justice but I also believe in compassion,” Estrada said.

After being ousted from office via the so-called EDSA 2, Estrada and his son Jinggoy spent around three years at the VMMC starting 2001. They were later transferred to Fort Sto. Domingo, Santa Rosa Laguna and then to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

In the 2004 presidential elections, Arroyo won and beat Estrada’s best friend Fernando Poe Jr. amid reports of widespread cheating.

Estrada was later given executive clemency by Arroyo after the Sandiganbayan ruled him guilty of plunder.

In a separate statement, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said: "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.”

Topacio is the lawyer of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

‘Naawa ako’

“After all the disasters happening around the country, this Christmas is about compassion. So I decided to also extend some compassion to GMA. Naawa ako," Estrada said.

He said Arroyo looked pale and lost a lot of weight.

Asked what they talked about, he said: “Well, she congratulated me on being mayor of Manila. And I told her that I supported her request to be allowed to spend Christmas with her family."

‘Erap has a big heart’

Topacio said the Arroyo family looks forward to a “rewarding exchange of ideas" with Estrada.

"President 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. The comfort which he gives during this season will go far in allaying the slings and arrows of outrageous persecution being perpetrated by the Aquino regime (to paraphrase Shakespeare),” he said.

The lawyer also lauded Estrada’s “magnanimous gesture” as evidence of the Biblical saying, “What ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

“When President 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.

Topacio noted it was Arroyo’s executive clemency that allowed Estrada to be able to run as Manila mayor.

“Mrs. Arroyo granted to him the highest gift of clemency within the prerogative of the Executive to bestow, and that is a pardon which allowed him freedom, which he has used to good effect by opting to once more serve the country as Mayor of Manila,” Topacio said.