Two former presidents of the Philippines share a distinct dishonor: both were arrested after they had left office and charged with capital crimes committed during their term. Joseph Estrada has paid for his wrongdoing. Gloria Arroyo is only starting her ordeal.
Former movie star Estrada was a hugely popular president but charges of corruption caught up with him midway through his term and cost him the presidency. After his ouster, he was charged with plunder. He was tried, convicted and pardoned, all during the term of Arroyo.
Now the shoe is on the other foot, says the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Estrada, now a free man, calls it karma — the Eastern culture’s term for the natural law of cause and effect.
As Estrada’s vice-president, it was Arroyo who was swept to the presidency after his ouster in 2001. She won a fresh mandate in 2004 but that victory had been tainted by allegations of vote rigging. She is now under arrest for electoral fraud in yet another scandal.
Police served Arroyo an arrest warrant two weeks ago in a private hospital suite where she is being treated for a bone ailment. She has asked the court to keep her under house arrest but a judge instead ordered her transferred to a government hospital – in the same suite which was Estrada’s prison for three years.
“No one has used the suite after Estrada, but it has been properly maintained,” the Inquirer quotes the director of the hospital that once treated war veterans. The newspaper, the country’s most widely circulated, also sought out the former occupants of the hospital suite.
Their unsolicited advice to Arroyo: bring mousetraps.