10/26/2007, 00.00
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Former President Estrada leaves prison, thanks Cardinal Vidal

by Santosh Digal
The political leader is pardoned by President Arroyo. He will not purge the sentence of life in prison for corruption. His first thoughts go to the prelate who worked for this release and comforted him during his time in prison.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Former President Joseph Estrada accepted the pardon issued by President Arroyo, and thanked Card Ricardo Vidal for the important role he played in his release. Estrada, who was ousted from power by a popular revolt in 2001, was convicted last September on corruption charges and sentenced to life in prison.

During his detention Cardinal Vidal wrote a letter to President Arroyo, co-signed by Senate President Manuel Villar Jr and House Speaker José de Venecia Jr, asking Ms Arroyo to grant Estrada an executive clemency in the “spirit of national unity and reconciliation.”

In his reaction to being released the former president said he was “very thankful” to Cardinal Vidal not only for the letter he wrote but also for the comfort he provided when he was in jail.

Mr Estrada announced that he was retiring from politics, saying that he had had enough.

“I really do not have any intention to run in any election,” he said. “All I want to do now is to be with my mother and take care of her.”

Estrada was in public service for almost 32 years—17 years as the mayor of San Juan, six as senator, six as vice president, and two and a half as President. 


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